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The Little Review
Making No Compromises With the Public Taste
Poem for Sunday and Gettysburg National Battlefield 
Sunday, 26th May 2013 12:04 am

Our Country's Call
By William Cullen Bryant

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 the 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!


Sorry about the bombastic poem, but we spent the afternoon at Gettysburg National Battlefield, where there's a great deal of recorded explosions of all sorts. We drove up with my parents and met Paul's parents at the visitor center, whose parking lots were packed in honor of Memorial Day weekend, but whose theaters and exhibits weren't particularly mobbed and whose monuments weren't crowded at all. We saw the introductory film narrated by Morgan Freeman and the cyclorama, went through the Civil War museum, then drove to Little Round Top and several other monuments. The weather could not have been more gorgeous.

It's my father's birthday weekend, so we decided to go to dinner at the Cozy Inn in Thurmont, which has an enormous buffet (I shall not mention how many different kinds of pie I had for dessert). It's very near Catoctin Mountain and has a small Camp David museum with lots of photos of the Carter-Begin-Sadat negotiations and the Kennedy kids playing, though in the alcove reserved for Obama, people had written racist crap on the letter explaining that the museum has no Obama photos yet. Here are a few family photos from Gettysburg; will post museum and monument pictures on a day when I don't get home so late!

Daniel and Adam seen from atop the 12th & 44th New York Volunteer Infantry Regiments monument on Little Round Top.

Family surrounding one of the battlefield cannons.

Adam looking out over the Slaughter Pen and Devil's Den.

Family at the State of Pennsylvania monument.
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