Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE SETTLER: AMERICA IN THE MAKING, by ALFRED BILLINGS STREET

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Classic and Contemporary Poetry

THE SETTLER: AMERICA IN THE MAKING, by                 Poet's Biography
First Line: His echoing ax the settler swung
Last Line: A nation's freedom won.
Subject(s): Pioneers; United States; America

HIS echoing axe the settler swung
Amid the sea-like solitude,
And, rushing, thundering, down were flung
The Titans of the wood;
Loud shrieked the eagle, as he dashed
From out his mossy nest, which crashed
With its supporting bough,
And the first sunlight, leaping, flashed
On the wolf's haunt below.
Rude was the garb and strong the frame
Of him who plied his ceaseless toil:
To form that garb the wildwood game
Contributed their spoil;
The soul that warmed that frame disdained
The tinsel, gaud, and glare that reigned
Where men their crowds collect;
The simple fur, untrimmed, unstained,
This forest-tamer decked.
The paths which wound mid gorgeous trees,
The stream whose bright lips kissed their
The winds that swelled their harmonies
Through those sun-hiding bowers,
The temple vast, the green arcade,
The nestling vale, the grassy glade,
Dark cave, and swampy lair;
These scenes and sounds majestic made
His world, his pleasures, there.
His roof adorned a pleasant spot;
Mid the black logs green glowed the grain,
And herbs and plants the woods knew not
Throve in the sun and rain.
The smoke-wreath curling o'er the dell,
The low, the bleat, the tinkling bell,
All made a landscape strange,
Which was the living chronicle
Of deeds that wrought the change.
The violet sprung at spring's first tinge,
The rose of summer spread its glow,
The maize hung out its autumn fringe,
Rude winter brought his snow;
And still the lone one labored there,
His shout and whistle broke the air,
As cheerily he plied
His garden-spade, or drove his share
Along the hillock's side.
He marked the fire-storm's blazing flood
Roaring and crackling on its path,
And scorching earth, and melting wood,
Beneath its greedy wrath;
He marked the rapid whirlwind shoot,
Trampling the pine-tree with its foot,
And darkening thick the day
With streaming bough and severed root,
Hurled whizzing on its way.
His gaunt hound yelled, his rifle flashed,
The grim bear hushed his savage growl;
In blood and foam the panther gnashed
His fangs, with dying howl;
The fleet deer ceases its flying bound,
Its snarling wolf-foe bit the ground,
And, with its moaning cry,
The beaver sank beneath the wound
Its pond-built Venice by.
Humble the lot, yet his the race,
When Liberty sent forth her cry,
Who thronged in conflict's deadliest place,
To fight, -- to bleed, -- to die!
Who cumbered Bunker's height of red,
By hope through weary years were led,
And witnessed Yorktown's sun
Blaze on a nation's banner spread,
A nation's freedom won.

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