Martha Lavinia Hoffman

A land with peace and plenty crowned,
Where luxury and wealth abound;
A land where Freedom's goddess reigns
Unfettered by Oppression's chains.
A land where every clime is found,
Where different races till the ground.
Here tropic fruits and flowers grow
And Summer's softest breezes blow.
Here too, tall mountain-columns glow
In regions of perpetual snow;
While various climates lie between
Hills clad in robes of living green,
And vales with golden harvests blest,
By sunbeams and soft winds caressed.
The great Pacific's broad expanse
Spreads out before the traveler's glance,
And in her ceaseless song, he hears
The memories of forgotten years;
Ere man beheld her peaceful shore
Or listened to the breaker's roar.
Yosemite lifts her domes and spires
And tunes to Heaven her native lyres,
Her cataracts in torrents fall,
Her mountains form a mighty wall;
And all their princely peaks combine
To guard proud Grandeur's loftiest shrine.
The mammoth trees, like giants stand,
Stationed to guard their native land.
Kings of the forest's leafy throne
By countless angry tempests blown;
Resisting ruin and decay,
They live, while nations pass away.
The tall Sierras, towering high,
Print the pale arches of the sky;
And like proud, princely monarchs, throw
Their shadows in the lakes below;
And o'er the flowery bowers of green,
Where Calliope dwells unseen,
The grandeur of their lofty domes
Falls softly o'er the peaceful homes;
Where man can undisturbed abide
Far from the gilded pomp of Pride.
The birds, their flight through tree-tops wing
And sing at eve their vesper hymn,
And when the sunlight hails the morn,
Chant through the woods their native song.
The rivers, flowing from the hills,
The flowers, low-bending o'er the rills--
All help to make the land more fair,
And scatter beauty everywhere.
Long years ago, our fathers came
To seek a land, whose wide-spread fame
Had echoed through the world abroad,
And sounded o'er the eastern sod;
'Till hundreds with bright hopes, elate,
Journeyed to find the golden State.
O'er wastes of land, through trials untold,
They came to dig the precious gold.
At night they made their lonely bed
Beside some winding, silvery thread.
At morn the trackless plain they pressed
And faced again the sunlit west.
O'er mountain paths, their way they wound;
'Till on fair California's ground,
They stood beneath her stately pines
And viewed at last her famous mines.
Some chose no more abroad to roam
And made the western State their home;
Some, who had come for grain and gold,
Went back to find their homes of old;
But all unsatisfied were they
From such a golden realm to stay,
So crossed the wilderness again
To find the land of gold and grain.
The dark-browed natives gazed in awe
And with fierce, war-like anger saw
Their loved and cherished hunting-ground
Changed into farms and peopled towns;
What wonder that in rage they rose
For vengeance on their pale-faced foes?
What wonder that each swarthy brave
Strove his Elysian home to save?
But all in vain, there soon shall be
None left to tell their history;
And even now, earth can but trace
A remnant of that mighty race.

    * * *

Fair California, land of gold!
My hopes for thee are yet untold,
But ere I lay my pen aside
These wishes I would here inscribe:
That vice should haunt thy hills no more
Nor crime infest Pacific's shore,
But right and loyal truth increase,
And all the votaries of peace
Should enter at thy Golden Gate;
My childhood's home, my native State!

Martha Lavinia Hoffman lived all her life in California. Her poetry is full of the beauty and power of nature.

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