Anna M. Fitch: The Song of the Flume

Awake, awake! for my track is red,
  With the glow of the coming day;
And with tinkling tread, from my dusty bed,
  I haste o’er the hills away,
Up from the valley, up from the plain,        5
  Up from the river’s side;
For I come with a gush, and a torrent’s rush,
  And there’s wealth in my swelling tide.
I am fed by the melting rills that start
  Where the sparkling snow-peaks gleam,        10
My voice is free, and with fiercest glee
  I leap in the sun’s broad beam;
Tho’ torn from the channels deep and old,
  I have worn through the craggy hill,
Yet I flow in pride, as my waters glide,        15
  And there’s mirth in my music still.
I sought the shore of the sounding sea,
  From the far Sierra’s hight,
With a starry breast, and a snow-capped crest
  I foamed in a path of light;        20
But they bore me thence in a winding way,
  The’ve fettered me like a slave,
And as scarfs of old were exchanged for gold,
  So they barter my soil-stained wave.
Thro’ the deep tunnel, down the dark shaft,        25
  I search for the shining ore;
Hoist it away to the light of day,
  Which it never has seen before.
Spade and shovel, mattock and pick,
  Ply them with eager haste;        30
For my golden shower is sold by the hour,
  And the drops are too dear to waste.
Lift me aloft to the mountain’s brow,
  Fathom the deep “blue vein,”
And I’ll sift the soil for the shining spoil,        35
  As I sink to the valley again.
The swell of my swarthy breast shall bear
  Pebble and rock away,
Though they brave my strength, they shall yield at length,
  But the glittering gold shall stay.        40
Mine is no stern and warrior march,
  No stormy trump and drum;
No banners gleam in my darkened stream,
  As with conquering step I come;
But I touch the tributary earth        45
  Till it owns a monarch’s sway,
And with eager hand, from a conquered land,
  I bear its wealth away.
Awake, awake! there are living hearts
  In the lands you’ve left afar;        50
There are tearful eyes in the homes you prize
  As they gaze on the western star;
Then up from the valley, up from the hill,
  Up from the river’s side;
For I come with a gush, and a torrent’s rush,        55
  And there’s wrath in my swelling tide.

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