I love thee, O thou great, wild, rugged land
Of fenceless field and snowy mountain height,
Uprearing crests all starry-diademed
Above the silver clouds! A sea of light
Swims o'er thy prairies, shimmering to the sight
A rolling world of glossy yellow wheat
That runs before the wind in billows bright
As waves beneath the beat of unseen feet,
And ripples far as eye can see--as far and fleet!
Here's chances for every man! The hands that work
Become the hands that rule! Thy harvests yield
Only to him who toils; and hands that shirk
Must empty go! And here the hands that wield
The sceptre work! O glorious golden field!
O bounteous, plenteous land of poet's dream!
O'er thy broad plain the cloudless sun ne'er wheeled
But some dull heart was brightened by its gleam
To seize on hope and realize life's highest dream!
Thy roaring tempests sweep from out the north--
Ten thousand cohorts on the wind's wild mane--
No hand can check thy frost-steeds bursting forth
To gambol madly on the storm-swept plain!
Thy hissing snow-drifts wreathe their serpent train,
With stormy laughter shrieks the joy of might--
Or lifts, or falls, or wails upon the wane--
Thy tempests sweep their stormy trail of white
Across the deepening drifts--and man must die, or fight!
Yes, man must sink or fight, be strong or die!
That is thy law, O great, free, strenuous West!
The weak thou wilt make strong till he defy
Thy bufferings; but spacious prairie breast
Will never nourish weakling as its guest!
He must grow strong or die! Thou givest all
An equal chance--to work, to do their best--
Free land, free hand--thy son must work or fall
Grow strong or die! That message shrieks the storm-wind's call!