Verse > Anthologies > Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. > An American Anthology, 1787–1900
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Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. (1833–1908).  An American Anthology, 1787–1900.  1900.
 
279. The Settler
 
By Alfred Billings Street
 
 
HIS echoing axe the settler swung
    Amid the sea-like solitude,
And rushing, thundering, down were flung
    The Titans of the wood;
Loud shrieked the eagle as he dashed        5
From out his mossy nest, which crashed
    With its supporting bough,
And the first sunlight, leaping, flashed
    On the wolf’s haunt below.
 
Rude was the garb, and strong the frame        10
    Of him who plied his ceaseless toil:
To form that garb, the wild-wood game
    Contributed their spoil;
The soul that warmed that frame disdained
The tinsel, gaud, and glare, that reigned        15
    Where men their crowds collect;
The simple fur, untrimmed, unstained,
    This forest-tamer decked.
 
The paths which wound mid gorgeous trees,
    The streams whose bright lips kissed their flowers,        20
The winds that swelled their harmonies
    Through those sun-hiding bowers,
The temple vast—the green arcade,
The nestling vale—the grassy glade,
    Dark cave and swampy lair,—        25
These scenes and sounds majestic, made
    His world and pleasures, there.
 
His roof adorned a lovely spot,
    Mid the black logs green glowed the grain,
And herbs and plants the woods knew not        30
    Throve in the sun and rain.
The smoke-wreath curling o’er the dell,
The low—the bleat—the tinkling bell,
    All made a landscape strange,
Which was the living chronicle        35
    Of deeds that wrought the change.
 
The violet sprung at spring’s first tinge,
    The rose of summer spread its glow,
The maize hung on its autumn fringe,
    Rude winter brought its snow;        40
And still the settler labored there,
His shout and whistle woke the air,
    As cheerily he plied
His garden spade, or drove his share
    Along the hillock’s side.        45
 
He marked the fire-storm’s blazing flood
    Roaring and crackling on its path,
And scorching earth, and melting wood,
    Beneath its greedy wrath;
He marked the rapid whirlwind shoot        50
Trampling the pine-tree with its foot,
    And darkening thick the day
With streaming bough and severed root,
    Hurled whizzing on its way.
 
His gaunt hound yelled, his rifle flashed,        55
    The grim bear hushed its savage growl,
In blood and foam the panther gnashed
    Its fangs, with dying howl;
The fleet deer ceased its flying bound,
Its snarling wolf-foe bit the ground,        60
    And with its moaning cry
The beaver sank beneath the wound,
    Its pond-built Venice by.
 
Humble the lot, yet his the race,
    When Liberty sent forth her cry,        65
Who thronged in Conflict’s deadliest place,
    To fight—to bleed—to die!
Who cumbered Bunker’s height of red,
By hope through weary years were led,
    And witnessed Yorktown’s sun        70
Blaze on a Nation’s banner spread,
    A Nation’s freedom won.
 

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