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Thomas R. Lounsbury, ed. (1838–1915). Yale Book of American Verse. 1912.

George Pratt 1832–1875

George Pratt

176 A Pen of Steel

GIVE me a pen of steel!

Away with the gray goose-quill!

I will grave the thoughts I feel

With a fiery heart and will:

I will grave with the stubborn pen

On the tablets of the heart,

Words never to fade again

And thoughts that shall ne’er depart.

Give me a pen of steel!

Hardened and bright and keen,—

To run like the chariot wheel,

When the battle-flame is seen:—

And give me the warrior’s heart,

To struggle thro’ night and day,

And to write with this thing of art

Words clear as the lightning’s play.

Give me a pen of steel!

The softer age is done,

And the thoughts that lovers feel

Have long been sought and won:—

No more of the gray goose-quill—

No more of the lover’s lay—

I have done with the minstrel’s skill,

And I change my path to-day.

Give me a pen of steel!

I will tell to after-times

How nerve and iron will

Are poured to the world in rhymes:—

How the soul is changed to power,

And the heart is changed to flame,

In the space of a passing hour

By poverty and shame!

Give me a pen of steel!—

But even this shall rust,

The touch of time shall feel,

And crumble away to dust:—

So perishes my heart,

Corroding day by day—

And laid like the pen apart,

Worn out and cast away!