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The Song of the Axe

A SONG for the sword! where the red blood poured
An oblation to earthly glory;
They have pledged its name to eternal fame,
In the pages of song and story.

A song for the pen! the cosmic pen,
By honesty's clean hand wielded,
It has set more stars on our 'scutcheon bars
Than ever the lordly steel did.

But stronger than these, and braver than these,
With a music more meet for singing,
Swell out from the trees, thro' the centuries,
The echoes of axe strokes ringing.

Wherever the beat of resolute feet
Down the vale of the years is falling,
From the war-worn flanks of their out-post ranks,
The song of the axe is calling.

O the song of the axe on the westward tracks,
By the camp fire ruddily leaping—
'Twas the Marseillaise of the roving days
That wakened the land from sleeping.

They heard it ring where the snow-streams spring,
And the arrows of tempest hurtle,
As it leaped with a flash and a quivering crash
To the heart of a mountain myrtle.

Where the carriages swerve round the clean-railed curve
That clings to the mountain's shoulder,
You can read its signs in the ranks of the pines
Where the prostrate monarchs moulder.

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O music and mirth of the cities of earth,
O levin of light and laughter!
From the forests ye sprang where the axes sang
Their lyrics of ridge and rafter.

It has poured no tears on the restless years,
Its march is no march of terror,
In the skies that are 'tis a steadfast star,
Set high o'er the ways of error—

When the last bright blade that a proud part played
In the pageants of power and plunder,
Doth plough the plain for the fertile grain,
Still the conquering axe shall thunder.