Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
America: Vols. XXV–XXIX. 1876–79.

Introductory to Western States

The Pioneers

By Charles Mackay (1814–1889)

ROUSE! brothers, rouse! we ’ve far to travel,

Free as the winds we love to roam,

Far through the prairie, far through the forest,

Over the mountains we ’ll find a home.

We cannot breathe in crowded cities,

We ’re strangers to the ways of trade;

We long to feel the grass beneath us,

And ply the hatchet and the spade.

Meadows and hills and ancient woodlands

Offer us pasture, fruit, and corn;

Needing our presence, courting our labor;—

Why should we linger like men forlorn?

We love to hear the ringing rifle,

The smiting axe, the falling tree;—

And though our life be rough and lonely,

If it be honest, what care we?

Fair elbow-room for men to thrive in!

Wide elbow-room for work or play!

If cities follow, tracing our footsteps,

Ever to westward shall point our way!

Rude though our life, it suits our spirit,

And new-born States in future years

Shall own us founders of a nation,—

And bless the hardy pioneers.