Verse > Anthologies > The World’s Best Poetry > Vol. VII. Descriptive: Narrative
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Bliss Carman, et al., eds.  The World’s Best Poetry.
Volume VII. Descriptive: Narrative.  1904.
 
Descriptive Poems: III. Places
The Settler
Alfred Billings Street (1811–1881)
 
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 wildwood 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 stream 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, his pleasures, there.
 
His roof adorned a pleasant 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 out its autumn fringe,
  Rude winter brought his snow;        40
And still the lone one labored there,
His shout and whistle broke 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 his savage growl;
In blood and foam the panther gnashed
  His 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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