Verse > John Greenleaf Whittier > The Poetical Works in Four Volumes
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John Greenleaf Whittier (1807–1892).  The Poetical Works in Four Volumes.  1892.
 
Appendix II. Poems Printed in the ‘Life of Whittier’
The Song of the Vermonters, 1779
 
          [Written during school-days, and published anonymously in 1833. The secret of authorship was not discovered for nearly sixty years.]

HO—all to the borders! Vermonters, come down,
With your breeches of deerskin and jackets of brown;
With your red woollen caps, and your moccasins, come,
To the gathering summons of trumpet and drum.
 
Come down with your rifles! Let gray wolf and fox        5
Howl on in the shade of their primitive rocks;
Let the bear feed securely from pig-pen and stall;
Here ’s two-legged game for your powder and ball.
 
On our south came the Dutchmen, enveloped in grease;
And arming for battle while canting of peace;        10
On our east, crafty Meshech has gathered his band
To hang up our leaders and eat up our land.
 
Ho—all to the rescue! For Satan shall work
No gain for his legions of Hampshire and York!
They claim our possessions—the pitiful knaves—        15
The tribute we pay shall be prisons and graves!
 
Let Clinton and Ten Broek, with bribes in their hands,
Still seek to divide and parcel our lands;
We ’ve coats for our traitors, whoever they are;
The warp is of feathers—the filling of tar.        20
 
Does the “old Bay State” threaten? Does Congress complain?
Swarms Hampshire in arms on our borders again?
Bark the war-dogs of Britain aloud on the lake—
Let ’em come; what they can they are welcome to take.
 
What seek they among us? The pride of our wealth        25
Is comfort, contentment, and labor, and health,
And lands which, as Freemen, we only have trod,
Independent of all, save the mercies of God.
 
Yet we owe no allegiance, we bow to no throne,
Our ruler is law, and the law is our own;        30
Our leaders themselves are our own fellow-men,
Who can handle the sword, or the scythe, or the pen.
 
Our wives are all true, and our daughters are fair,
With their blue eyes of smiles and their light flowing hair,
All brisk at their wheels till the dark even-fall,        35
Then blithe at the sleigh-ride, the husking, and ball!
 
We ’ve sheep on the hillsides, we ’ve cows on the plain,
And gay-tasselled corn-fields and rank-growing grain;
There are deer on the mountains, and wood-pigeons fly
From the crack of our muskets, like clouds on the sky.        40
 
And there ’s fish in our streamlets and rivers which take
Their course from the hills to our broad-bosomed lake;
Through rock-arched Winooski the salmon leaps free,
And the portly shad follows all fresh from the sea.
 
Like a sunbeam the pickerel glides through the pool,        45
And the spotted trout sleeps where the water is cool,
Or darts from his shelter of rock and of root
At the beaver’s quick plunge, or the angler’s pursuit.
 
And ours are the mountains, which awfully rise,
Till they rest their green heads on the blue of the skies;        50
And ours are the forests unwasted, unshorn,
Save where the wild path of the tempest is torn.
 
And though savage and wild be this climate of ours,
And brief be our season of fruits and of flowers,
Far dearer the blast round our mountains which raves,        55
Than the sweet summer zephyr which breathes over slaves!
 
Hurrah for Vermont! For the land which we till
Must have sons to defend her from valley and hill;
Leave the harvest to rot on the fields where it grows,
And the reaping of wheat for the reaping of foes.        60
 
From far Michiscom’s wild valley, to where
Poosoonsuck steals down from his wood-circled lair,
From Shocticook River to Lutterlock town—
Ho—all to the rescue! Vermonters, come down!
 
Come York or come Hampshire, come traitors or knaves.        65
If ye rule o’er our land, ye shall rule o’er our graves;
Our vow is recorded—our banner unfurled,
In the name of Vermont we defy all the world!
 
 
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