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- THEY brought me ambrotypes
- Of the old pioneers to enlarge.
- And sometimes one sat for me—
- Some one who was in being
- When giant hands from the womb of the world
- Tore the republic.
- What was it in their eyes?—
- For I could never fathom
- That mystical pathos of drooped eyelids,
- And the serene sorrow of their eyes.
- It was like a pool of water,
- Amid oak trees at the edge of a forest,
- Where the leaves fall,
- As you hear the crow of a cock
- From a far-off farm house, seen near the hills
- Where the third generation lives, and the strong men
- And the strong women are gone and forgotten.
- And these grand-children and great grand-children
- Of the pioneers!
- Truly did my camera record their faces, too,
- With so much of the old strength gone,
- And the old faith gone,
- And the old mastery of life gone,
- And the old courage gone,
- Which labors and loves and suffers and sings
- Under the sun!
- Edgar lee Masters
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