Verse > Anthologies > The World’s Best Poetry > Vol. VIII. National Spirit
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Bliss Carman, et al., eds.  The World’s Best Poetry.
Volume VIII. National Spirit.  1904.
 
I. Patriotism
A Cry to Arms
Henry Timrod (1828–1867)
 
[1861]

HO, woodsmen of the mountain-side!
  Ho, dwellers in the vales!
Ho, ye who by the chafing tide
  Have roughened in the gales!
Leave barn and byre, leave kin and cot,        5
  Lay by the bloodless spade;
Let desk and case and counter rot,
  And burn your books of trade!
 
The despot roves your fairest lands;
  And till he flies or fears,        10
Your fields must grow but armèd bands,
  Your sheaves be sheaves of spears!
Give up to mildew and to rust
  The useless tools of gain,
And feed your country’s sacred dust        15
  With floods of crimson rain!
 
Come with the weapons at your call—
  With musket, pike, or knife;
He wields the deadliest blade of all
  Who lightest holds his life.        20
The arm that drives its unbought blows
  With all a patriot’s scorn,
Might brain a tyrant with a rose
  Or stab him with a thorn.
 
Does any falter? Let him turn        25
  To some brave maiden’s eyes,
And catch the holy fires that burn
  In those sublunar skies.
Oh, could you like your women feel,
  And in their spirit march,        30
A day might see your lines of steel
  Beneath the victor’s arch!
 
What hope, O God! would not grow warm
  When thoughts like these give cheer?
The lily calmly braves the storm,        35
  And shall the palm-tree fear?
No! rather let its branches court
  The rack that sweeps the plain;
And from the lily’s regal port
  Learn how to breast the strain.        40
 
Ho, woodsmen of the mountain-side!
  Ho, dwellers in the vales!
Ho, ye who by the roaring tide
  Have roughened in the gales!
Come, flocking gayly to the fight,        45
  From forest, hill, and lake;
We battle for our country’s right,
  And for the lily’s sake!
 
 
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