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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.
The Library of the World’s Best Literature. An Anthology in Thirty Volumes. 1917.

Author Unknown

Song of the Forge

CLANG, clang! the massive anvils ring—

Clang, clang! a hundred hammers swing;

Like the thunder-rattle of a tropic sky

The mighty blows still multiply:

Clang, clang!

Say, brothers of the dusky brow,

What are your strong arms forging now?—

Clang, clang! we forge the colter now—

The colter of the kindly plow:

Sweet Mary, mother, bless our toil;

May its broad furrow still unbind

To genial rains, to sun and wind,

The most benignant soil.

Clang, clang—our colter’s course shall be

On many a sweet and sheltered lea,

By many a streamlet’s silver tide,

Amidst the song of the morning birds,

Amidst the low of the sauntering herds,

Amidst soft breezes which do stray

Through woodbine hedges and sweet May

Along the green hill’s side.

When regal autumn’s bounteous hand

With wide-spread glory clothes the land;

When to the valleys, from the brow

Of each resplendent slope is rolled

A ruddy sky of living gold,

We bless—we bless the plow.—

Clang, clang—again, my mates, what glows

Beneath the hammer’s potent blows?—

Clink, clank—we forge the giant chain

Which bears the gallant vessel’s strain,

’Midst stormy winds and adverse tides;

Secured by this, the good ship braves

The rocky roadstead, and the waves

Which thunder on her sides.

Anxious no more, the merchant sees

The mist drive back before the breeze,

The storm-cloud on the hill;

Calmly he rests, though far away

In boisterous climes his vessel lay,

Reliant on our skill.—

Say on what sand these links shall sleep,

Fathoms beneath the solemn deep:

By Afric’s pestilential shore,

By many an iceberg, lone and hoar,

By many a palmy western isle

Basking in spring’s perpetual smile,

By stormy Labrador?

Say, shall they feel the vessel reel,

When to the battery’s deadly peal

The crushing broadside makes reply?

Or else, as at the glorious Nile,

Hold grappling ships, that strive the while

For death or victory?

Hurrah! Cling, clang! once more, what glows,

Dark brothers of the forge, beneath

The iron tempest of your blows,

The furnace’s red breath?—

Clang, clang—a burning torrent, clear

And brilliant, of bright sparks, is poured

Around and up in the dusky air,

As our hammers forge the sword.

The sword!—a name of dread; yet when

Upon the freeman’s thigh ’tis bound,

While for his altar and his hearth,

While for the land that gave him birth,

The war-drums roll, the trumpets sound—

How sacred is it then!

Whenever for the truth and right

It flashes in the van of fight,—

Whether in some wild mountain pass,

As that where fell Leonidas;

Or on some sterile plain and stern,

A Marston or a Bannockburn;

Or, mid fierce crags and bursting rills,

The Switzer’s Alps and Tyrol’s hills;

Or as, when sank the Armada’s pride,

It gleams above the stormy tide,—

Still, still, whene’er the battle word

Is liberty,—when men do stand

For justice and their native land,—

Then Heaven bless the sword.