Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, OUR COUNTRY'S CALL, by WILLIAM CULLEN BRYANT



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OUR COUNTRY'S CALL, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Lay down the axe; fling by the spade
Last Line: And glorious must their triumph be.
Subject(s): American Civil War; Military Service, Voluntary; Patriotism; United States - History


LAY down the axe, fling by the spade;
Leave in its track the toiling plough;
The rifle and the bayonet-blade
For arms like yours were fitter now;
And let the hands that ply the pen
Quit the light task, and learn to wield
The horseman's crooked brand, and rein
The charger on the battle-field.

Our country calls; away! away!
To where the blood-stream blots the green;
Strike to defend the gentlest sway
That Time in all his course has seen.
See, from a thousand coverts -- see
Spring the armed foes that haunt her track;
They rush to smite her down, and we
Must beat the banded traitors back.

Ho! sturdy as the oaks ye cleave,
And moved as soon to fear and flight,
Men of the glade and forest! leave
Your woodcraft for the field of fight.
The arms that yield the axe must pour
An iron tempest on the foe;
His serried ranks shall reel before
The arm that lays the panther low.

And ye who breast the mountain storm
By grassy steep or highland lake,
Come, for the land ye love, to form
A bulwark that no foe can break.
Stand, like your own gray cliffs that mock
The whirlwind; stand in her defence:
The blast as soon shall move the rock,
As rushing squadrons bear ye thence.

And ye whose homes are by her grand
Swift rivers, rising far away,
Come from the depth of her green land
As mighty in your march as they;
As terrible as when the rains
Have swelled them over bank and bourne,
With sudden floods to drown the plains
And sweep along the woods uptorn.

And ye who throng beside the deep,
Her ports and hamlets of the strand,
In number like the waves that leap
On his long-murmuring marge of sand,
Come, like that deep, when, o'er his brim,
He rises, all his floods to pour,
And flings the proudest barks that swim,
A helpless wreck against his shore.

Few, few were they whose swords of old
Won the fair land in which we dwell;
But we are many, we who hold
The grim resolve to guard it well.
Strike for that broad and goodly land,
Blow after blow, till men shall see
That Might and Right move hand in hand,
And Glorious must their triumph be.





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