Posted by: Democratic Thinker | July 13, 2011

The Song of the Forge



The Song of the Forge.


CLANG, CLANG!—the massive anvils ring;
Clang, clang!—a hundred hammers swing;
Like the thunder-rattle of a tropic sky,
The mighty blows still multiply,—Clang, clang!

Say, brothers of the dusky brow,
What are your strong arms forging now?

Clang, clang!—we forge the coulter now,—
The coulter of the kindly plough.
Sweet Mary mother, bless our toil!
May its broad furrow still unbind
To genial rains, to sun and wind,
The most benignant soil!

Clang, clang!—our coulter’s course shall be
On many a sweet and sheltered lea,
By many a streamlet’s silver tide;
Amidst the song of morning birds,
Amidst the low of sauntering herds,
Amidst soft breezes, which do stray
Through woodbine hedges and sweet May,
Along the green hill’s side.

When regal Autumn’s bounteous hand
With wide-spread glory clothes the land,—
When to the valleys, from the brow
Of each resplendent slope, is rolled
A ruddy sea of living gold,—
We bless—we bless the PLOUGH.

Clang, clang!—again, my mates, what grows
Beneath the hammer’s potent blows?—

Clink, clank!—we forge the giant chain,
Which bears the gallant vessel’s strain
‘Midst stormy winds and adverse tides;
Secured by this, the good ship braves
The rocky roadstead, and the waves
Which thunder on her sides.

Anxious no more, the merchant sees
The mist drive dark before the breeze,
The storm-cloud on the hill;
Calmly he rests,—though far away,
In boisterous climes, his vessel lay,
Reliant on our skill.—

Say on what sands these links shall sleep,
Fathoms beneath the solemn deep?

By Afric’s pestilential shore;
By many an iceberg, lone and hoar;
By many a balmy western isle,
Basking in spring’s perpetual smile;
By stormy Labrador.

Say, shall they feel the vessel reel,
When to the battery’s deadly peal
The crashing broadside makes reply;
Or else, as at the glorious Nile,
Hold grappling ships, that strive the while
For death or victory?

Hurrah!—cling, clang!—once more, what glows,
Dark brothers of the forge, beneath
The iron tempest of your blows,
The furnace’s red breath?

Clang, clang!—a burning shower, clear
And brilliant of bright sparks, is poured
Around, and up in the dusky air,
As our hammers forge the SWORD.

The sword!—a name of dread; yet when
Upon the freeman’s thigh ‘tis bound,—
While for his altar and his hearth,
While for the land that gave him birth,
The war-drums roll, the trumpets sound,—
How sacred is it then!

Whenever for the truth and right
It flashes in the van of fight,—
Whether in some wild mountain pass,
As that where fell Leonidas;
Or on some sterile plain and stern,
A Marston, or a Bannockburn;
Or amidst crags and bursting rills,
The Switzer’s Alps, gray Tyrol’s hills;
Or as, when sunk the Armada’s pride,
It gleams above the stormy tide,—
Still, still, whene’er the battle word
Is liberty, when men do stand
For justice and their native land,—

—The Philadelphia Visitor, 1837.