Our Country’s Call

Author: William Cullen Bryant  | Date: 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

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 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

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 the 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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Chicago: William Cullen Bryant, Our Country’s Call Original Sources, accessed December 8, 2022, http://originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=J3Q6KRX8VSG8TME.

MLA: Bryant, William Cullen. Our Country’s Call, Original Sources. 8 Dec. 2022. http://originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=J3Q6KRX8VSG8TME.

Harvard: Bryant, WC, Our Country’s Call. Original Sources, retrieved 8 December 2022, from http://originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=J3Q6KRX8VSG8TME.