Saturday, 18 June 2016

Tubal Cain by Charles Mackay (circa 1846-56)

Old Tubal Cain was a man of might,
In the days when Earth was young;
By the fierce red light of his furnace bright,
The strokes of his hammer rung,
And he lifted high his brawny hand
On the iron, glowing clear,
Till the sparks rush’d out in scarlet rout,
As he fashion’d the sword and spear;
And he sang “Hura! for my handiwork!
Hurra for the spear and sword!
Hurra for the hand that shall wield them well,
For he shall be King and Lord!”

To Tubal Cain came many a one,
As he wrought by his roaring fire,
And each one pray’d for a strong steel blade,
As the crown of his own desire;
And he made them weapons sharp and strong
Till they shouted loud for glee,
And gave him gifts of pearls and gold,
And spoils of the forest free;
And they sang “Hurra for Tubal Cain
Who hath giv’n us strength anew­­
Hurra for the smith! hurra for the fire!
And hurra for the metal true!”

But a sudden change come o’re his head
Ere the setting of the sun;
And Tubal Cain was fill’d with pain
For the evil he had done;
He saw that men, with rage and hate,
Made war upon their kind;
And the land was red with the blood they shed
In their lust for carnage blind;
And he said “Alas! that ever I made,
Or that skill of mine should plan,
The spear and the sword for men whose joy
Is to slay their fellow man!”

And for many a day old Tubal Cain
Sat brooding o’er his woe;
And his hand forbore to smite the ore,
And his furnace smoulder’d low:
And he rose at last with a cheerful face,
And a bright courageous eye,
And bar’d his strong right arm for work,
While the quick flames mounted high;
And he sang “Hurra for my handiwork!
And the red sparks lit the air,­­
Not alone for the blade was the bright steel made,”
And he fashion’d the first ploughshare.

And men, taught wisdom from the past,
In friendship join’d their hands,­­
Hung the sword in the hall, the spear on the wall,
And plough’d the willing lands;
And sang “Hurra for Tubal Cain,
Our staunch good friend is he;
And for the ploughshare, and the plough,
To him our praise shall be.
But while oppression lifts its head,
Or a tyrant would be lord,
Though we may thank him for the plough,
We’ll not forget the sword.”

Words by Charles Mackay, Esq. Music Composed and Sung by Henry Russell, 1812-1900. Pages 81-88 from “One Hundred Songs by Henry Russell.

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