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Stedman and Hutchinson, comps. A Library of American Literature:
An Anthology in Eleven Volumes. 1891.
Vols. IX–XI: Literature of the Republic, Part IV., 1861–1889

The War of the Dryads

By Henry Ames Blood (1836–1900)

SHAPES of earth or sprites of air,

Should you travel thither,

Ask the Dryads how they dare

Quarrel thus together?

Live and love, or coo and woo,

Men with axes banding,

They will have all they can do

To keep their live-oak standing.

Long and loud the larum swells

Rousing up the peoples:

Campaneros clang their bells

High in leafy steeples.

Swiftly speed the eager hours,

Fairy fellies rattle;

Bugle-weed and trumpet-flowers

Heralding the battle.

Foremost march, in pale platoons,

Barnacles and ganzas,

Quacking through the long lagoons

Military stanzas.

Red-legged choughs and screeching daws

File along the larches;

“Right!” and “Left!” the raven caws,

“Blast your countermarches!”

Cheek by jowl with stately rooks

Come the perking swallows,

Putting on important looks,

Strutting up the hollows;

Lank, long-legged fuglemen,

Herons, cranes, and ganders,

Stride before the buglemen,

Cock-a-hoop commanders.

Learned owls with wondrous eyes,

Apes with wild grimaces,

Shardy chafers, chattering pyes,

Bustle in their places.

“Forward!” cry the captains all,

Seeming hoarse with phthisis;

“Forward!” all the captains call,

Cocks and cockatrices.

Fiercely grapple now the foes,

Rain the bottle-grasses;

Hobble-bushes, bitter sloes,

Block the mountain passes.

Here and there and everywhere

Reinforcements rally,

Seeming sprung from earth and air,

From mountain top and valley.

Either gleaming bullets hum,

Or the bees are plying;

Either whizzing goes the bomb,

Or the pheasant flying.

’Tis the pheasant, ’tis the bee;

Never fiercer volley

Rang upon the birken tree,

Nor whirred along the holly.

Out from furze and prickly goss,

Fiery serpents jetting,

Over level roods of moss

Rabbits ricochetting;

Oh, the onset! Oh, the charge!

How the aspens quiver!

Fever-bushes on the marge

Chatter to the river.

Overhead by rod and rood,

More than man could number,

Spear-grass and arrow-wood

Turn the white air sombre.

Gentle, gentle Dryades,

You shall reap your sorrow;

More than rainy Hyades

You shall weep to-morrow.

Crows the cock and caws the crow,

Croaks the boding raven;

Pallid as the moonbeams go,

Three and three, the craven

Dryads, and the sun drops low.

Soon shall come strange faces,

Men with axes, to and fro,—

New peoples and new races.