The Navvies

The builder-kings of the olden time
Works mighty and wondrous did ;
They spake ; on the peopled plain sublime
Rose the towering pyramid !
Yes, proudly on high colossal things
Looked the wondering ancient sun ;
But mightier works than the olden kings
Have our own stout navvies done ;
For the navvies, then, hurrah !
Hurrah for the boys who've mightier things
wrought than were wrought by the builder-kings !

Nature our land for the Celtic stock
At first rude together threw ;
Our navvies wrought in the clay and rock
And made up the land anew !
We saw them at work; sturdy and strong
Were they of the wild brigades ;
From one to the other, with shout and song,
They tossed the hills on their spades.
For the navvies, then, hurrah !
Hurrah for the boys of the wild brigades
Who tossed the hills on their sturdy spades !

Oh, Commerce then with exulting glee
Saw the pathless mountain tall
And the valley rise—saw sea to sea
Love-linked by the long canal !
For water, its burning thirst to slake,
Gasped the restless, fevered town ;
Our navvies strode to the cloud-high lake
And tumbled a river down !
For the navvies, then, hurrah !
Hurrah ! for the boys who tumbled down,
A river cool on the gasping town !

But wild was the work in the dim-illumed
Hill-land and the sea-smoothed strath,
Ere the locomotive, thunder-wombed,
Rushed forth on its iron path ;
Through riven hill see the morning hurled,
Revealing to wondering men
The rocky crypts of a coffined world.
Whose cairn is the mighty Ben.
For the navvies, then, hurrah !
Hurrah for the strong-thewed Titan men
Who rent the heart of the granite Ben !

The sons of the future, awed, I ween,
Will view the stupendous bridge
Wide-leaping a rlvered vale between—
From aerial ridge to ridge ;
They will say: "The giants have tolled !"
They will say: "Here the Titans strayed !"
And Titans they are, our nomads wild,
The men of the pick and spade !
Fer the navvies, then, hurrah!
Ye Isles, which they and the tempest made,
Hurrah tor the men of the pick and spade !

—James Boag.

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