The golden banners of the corn
Will glad the earth again,
Attended by the morning dew
And the celestial rain!
And matron eyes will brighter grow
To see the bending corn
Stoop, like a band of worshippers,
To greet the rising morn!
The maiden’s cheek will wear a hue
More health in the sun,
While counting heads of luscious corn
The dark-eyed Harvest Nun!
The OLD MAN, with his snowy locks,
White as the winter’s zone,
Bends on his knew and thanks our God
With reverential tone.
Children will leap and laugh and lie
Upon the greener grass,
And shade their sunnier eyes of love
While argosies do pass-
The argosies of mellow corn,
On rivers and on seas;
These are our Coat of Arms—
We conquer Worlds with these.
Nature herself doth take a smile
When unto her are born
(to feed a million starving men)
So many grains of corn.
The ill-fed serfs of Cotton King
Fall down in conscious shame,
And glorious paeans loudly sing
Unto the Rescuer’s name.
All tongues, all nations, will be glad
When Corn has come to reign,
To spread his banners o’er the earth
In Peace and Love again!


Author:E. Ross White

Publication:Portland Advertiser

Published in:

Date:February 28th 1863

Keywords:hunger, slavery


Like ‘A New King’ published two years earlier in the Farmers Cabinet journal, this poem, originally published in the Louisville Journal, celebrates the economic and indeed social potential of corn as a food crop to replace cotton as a textile crop. The poem illustrates that, quite apart from the issue of slavery, the association between cotton and hunger was an American preoccupation during this period as much as across the Atlantic. The reference to the slave-masters falling down in ‘conscious shame’ is likely to be influenced by Shelley’s ‘Mask of Anarchy’, which was popular with abolitionists and radicals at this time, having first been published by Mary Shelley in 1839. The slaves themselves are referred to as the ‘ill-fed serfs of Cotton King’. – SR