The Lumbermen





WILDLY round our woodland quarters

Sad-voiced Autumn grieves;

Thickly down these swelling waters

Float his fallen leaves.

Through the tall and naked timber,

Column-like and old,

Gleam the sunsets of November,

From their skies of gold.



O'er us, to the southland heading,

Screams the gray wild-goose;

On the night-frost sounds the treading

Of the brindled moose.

Noiseless creeping, while we're sleeping,

Frost his task-work plies;

Soon, his icy bridges heaping,

Shall our log-piles rise.



When, with sounds of smothered thunder,

On some night of rain,

Lake and river break asunder

Winter's weakened chain,

Down the wild March flood shall bear them

To the saw-mill's wheel,

Or where Steam, the slave, shall tear them

With his teeth of steel.



Be it starlight, be it moonlight,

In these vales below,

When the earliest beams of sunlight

Streak the mountain's snow,

Crisps the boar-frost, keen and early,

To our hurrying feet,

And the forest echoes clearly

All our blows repeat.



Where the crystal Ambijejis

Stretches broad and clear,

And Millnoket's pine-black ridges

Hide the browsing deer

Where, through lakes and wide morasses,

Or through rocky walls,

Swift and strong, Penobscot passes

White with foamy falls;



Where, through clouds, are glimpses given

Of Katahdin's sides,--

Rock and forest piled to heaven,

Torn and ploughed by slides!

Far below, the Indian trapping,

In the sunshine warm;

Far above, the snow-cloud wrapping

Half the peak in storm!



Where are mossy carpets better

Than the Persian weaves,

And than Eastern perfumes sweeter

Seem the fading leaves;

And a music wild and solemn,

From the pine-tree's height,

Rolls its vast and sea-like volume

On the wind of night;



Make we here our camp of winter;

And, through sleet and snow,

Pitchy knot and beechen splinter

On our hearth shall glow.

Here, with mirth to lighten duty,

We shall lack alone

Woman's smile and girlhood's beauty,

Childhood's lisping tone.



But their hearth is brighter burning

For our toil to-day;

And the welcome of returning

Shall our loss repay,

When, like seamen from the waters,

From the woods we come,

Greeting sisters, wives, and daughters,

Angels of our home!



Not for us the measured ringing

From the village spire,

Not for us the Sabbath singing

Of the sweet-voiced choir,

Ours the old, majestic temple,

Where God's brightness shines

Down the dome so grand and ample,

Propped by lofty pines!



Through each branch-enwoven skylight,

Speaks He in the breeze,

As of old beneath the twilight

Of lost Eden's trees!

For His ear, the inward feeling

Needs no outward tongue;

He can see the spirit kneeling

While the axe is swung.



Heeding truth alone, and turning

From the false and dim,

Lamp of toil or altar burning

Are alike to Him.

Strike, then, comrades! Trade is waiting

On our rugged toil;

Far ships waiting for the freighting

Of our woodland spoil.



Ships, whose traffic links these highlands,

Bleak and cold, of ours,

With the citron-planted islands

Of a clime of flowers;

To our frosts the tribute bringing

Of eternal heats;

In our lap of winter flinging

Tropic fruits and sweets.



Cheerly, on the axe of labor,

Let the sunbeams dance,

Better than the flash of sabre

Or the gleam of lance!

Strike! With every blow is given

Freer sun and sky,

And the long-hid earth to heaven

Looks, with wondering eye!



Loud behind us grow the murmurs

Of the age to come;

Clang of smiths, and tread of farmers,

Bearing harvest home!

Here her virgin lap with treasures

Shall the green earth fill;

Waving wheat and golden maize-ears

Crown each beechen hill.



Keep who will the city's alleys

Take the smooth-shorn plain';

Give to us the cedarn valleys,

Rocks and hills of Maine!

In our North-land, wild and woody,

Let us still have part

Rugged nurse and mother sturdy,

Hold us to thy heart!



Oh, our free hearts beat the warmer

For thy breath of snow;

And our tread is all the firmer

For thy rocks below.

Freedom, hand in hand with labor,

Walketh strong and brave;

On the forehead of his neighbor

No man writeth Slave!



Lo, the day breaks! old Katahdin's

Pine-trees show its fires,

While from these dim forest gardens

Rise their blackened spires.

Up, my comrades! up and doing!

Manhood's rugged play

Still renewing, bravely hewing

Through the world our way!

1845.





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