Verse > Anthologies > The World’s Best Poetry > Vol. VIII. National Spirit
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Bliss Carman, et al., eds.  The World’s Best Poetry.
Volume VIII. National Spirit.  1904.
 
I. Patriotism
Our Country’s Call
William Cullen Bryant (1794–1878)
 
[1861]

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        5
  Quit the light task, and learn to wield
The horseman’s crookèd brand, and rein
  The charger on the battle-field.
 
Our country calls; away! away!
  To where the blood-stream blots the green;        10
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        15
  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.        20
The arms that wield 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        25
  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:        30
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        35
  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.        40
 
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,        45
  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;        50
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,        55
  And Glorious must their triumph be.
 
 
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