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My Country ’Tis of Thee

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Of course you have faced the dilemma: it is announced, they all smirk and rise. If they are ultra, they remove their hats and look ecstatic; then they look at you. What shall you do? Noblesse oblige; you cannot be boorish, or ungracious; and too, after all it is your country and you do love its ideals if not all of its realities. Now, then, I have thought of a way out: Arise, gracefully remove your hat, and tilt your head. Then sing as follows, powerfully and with deep unction. They’ll hardly note the little changes and their feelings and your conscience will thus be saved:

My country tis of thee,
Late land of slavery,
         Of thee I sing.
Land where my father’s pride
Slept where my mother died,
From every mountain side
         Let freedom ring!

My native country thee
Land of the slave set free,
         Thy fame I love.
I love thy rocks and rills
And o’er thy hate which chills,
My heart with purpose thrills,
         To rise above.

Let laments swell the breeze
And wring from all the trees
          Sweet freedom’s song.
Let laggard tongues awake,
Let all who hear partake,
Let Southern silence quake,
         The sound prolong.

Our fathers’ God to thee
Author of Liberty,
         To thee we sing
Soon may our land be bright,
With Freedom’s happy light
Protect us by Thy might,
         Great God our King.

W. E. B. Du Bois, “My Country ’Tis of Thee” from Creative Writings by W. E. B Du Bois (KrausThomson Organization Limited, 1985). Reprinted with the permission of the Estate of W. E. B. Du Bois.
Source: Creative Writings by W. E. B. Du Bois (KrausThomson Organization Limited, 1985)
My Country ’Tis of Thee

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