The Forest Fighter by Henry O'Donnell

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The clear, crisp air of morning like a silver tocsin rang
   A note that told of fierce but bloodless fight,
And stirred me to a melody that laggard never sang
   When a stripling slew a giant in his might.

Crash! came the monster, but his fall woke no applauding cheers,
   For, silently, the mighty deed was done,
But "Laborare est orare" echoed down the years,
   And spurred the stripling to the task begun.

For, fronting him, an army of a thousand giants stood,
   And tossed their thousand plumes against the sky,
But he swore a vow to wife and child that, all alone he would
   Lay low that horde of forest kings or die.

And morn by morn, with whetted axe, he faced the shrinking foe
   With steady eye, and fearless, measured tread,
And day by day the battle raged, but crushing was his blow,
   For every night a forest king lay dead.

The clear, crisp air of morning like a silver tocsin rang,
   When all the shattered giants lay up-piled,
But, louder than a tocsin, all the rescued meadows sang
   The vict'ry won for home and wife and child.

The God that lent to honest toil its ever peerless charm,
   Who loves the dauntless heart and reeking brow,
Saw a heap of forest giants vanquished by a stripling's arm,
   And marked as "done" a Heav'n-recorded vow.

Thrice noble is a noble deed when done in solitude,
   And Fame the secret never need reveal,
When Heaven sits in judgment on our actions in the nude,
   And stamps them with her everlasting seal.

Pale! gleaming star of Austerlitz; fade! guerdon of the Nile,
   And all the toys that gilded warfare brings.
Beside that crown of victory, wreathed of a wifely smile,
   That decked the man who slew a race of kings.

I'm weary of the paeans, to the glory of the sword,
   That round the woe-struck universe now ring,
But as long as Muse or manhood shall arouse a slumb'ring chord,
   The triumphs of the axe I'll ever sing.

First published in Melbourne Punch, 13 April 1905

Author: nothing is known about the author of this poem

Author reference site: Austlit.

See also.

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This page contains a single entry by Perry Middlemiss published on April 13, 2011 8:52 AM.

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