Thirty Poems

Author: William Cullen Bryant  | Date: 1864

Show Summary

"Our Country’s Call" (1861)


LAY down the axe; fling by the spade; Leave in its track the toiling plough; The rifle and the bayonet blade For arms like yours were fitter now;

And let the hands that ply the pen Quit the light task, and learn to wield The horseman’s crooked brand, and rein The charger on the battle field.

Our country calls; away! away! To where the blood-stream blots the green. Strike to defend the gentlest sway That Time in all his course has seen. See, from a thousand coverts—see, Spring the armed foes that haunt her track; They rush to smite her down, and we Must beat the banded traitors back.

Ho! sturdy as the oaks ye cleave, And moved as soon to fear and flight, Men of the glade and forest! leave Your woodcraft for the field of fight. The arms that wield the axe must pour An iron tempest on the foe; His serried ranks shall reel before The arm that lays the panther low.

And ye, who breast the mountain storm By grassy steep or highland lake, Come, for the land ye love, to form A bulwark that no foe can break. Stand, like your own gray cliffs that mock The whirlwind, stand in her defence; The blast as soon shall move the rock As rushing squadrons bear ye thence.

And ye, whose homes are by her grand Swift rivers, rising far away, Come from the depth of her green land, As mighty in your march as they; As terrible as when the rains Have swelled them over bank and bourne, With sudden floods to drown the plains And sweep along the woods uptorn.

And ye, who throng, beside the deep, Her ports and hamlets of the strand, In number like the waves that leap On his long murmuring marge of sand, Come, like that deep, when, o’er his brim, He rises, all his floods to pour, And flings the proudest barks that swim, A helpless wreck, against his shore.

Few, few were they whose swords of old Won the fair land in which we dwell; But we are many, we who hold The grim resolve to guard it well. Strike, for that broad and goodly land, Blow after blow, till men shall see That Might and Right move hand in hand, And glorious must their triumph be.

William Cullen Bryant, (New York, D. Appleton & Co., 1864), 104–107.


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Chicago: William Cullen Bryant, "Our Country’s Call (1861)," Thirty Poems in American History Told by Contemporaries, ed. Albert Bushnell Hart (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1903), Original Sources, accessed December 4, 2023,

MLA: Bryant, William Cullen. ""Our Country’s Call" (1861)." Thirty Poems, in American History Told by Contemporaries, edited by Albert Bushnell Hart, Vol. 4, New York, The Macmillan Company, 1903, Original Sources. 4 Dec. 2023.

Harvard: Bryant, WC, '"Our Country’s Call" (1861)' in Thirty Poems. cited in 1903, American History Told by Contemporaries, ed. , The Macmillan Company, New York. Original Sources, retrieved 4 December 2023, from