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Ashlar Home > Poems > Charles Mackay > Old Tubal Cain

Old Tubal Cain

By Charles Mackay

1867
Old Tubal Cain was a man of might
In the days when the 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 rushed out in scarlet showers
And he fashioned the sword and spear.
And he sang Hurra for the 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 prayed for a strong steel blade
As the crown of his desire.
And he made them weapons sharp and strong,
Till they shouted loud for glee,
And gave him gifts of pearl and gold,
And spoils of the forest free
And they said, Hurra for Tubal Cain,
Who hath given us strength anew!
Hurra for the smith, hurra for the fire,
And hurra for the metal true!

But a sudden change came o'er his heart
Ere the setting of the sun,
And Tubal Cain was filled with pain for
The Evil he had done
He saw that men, with rage and hate,
Made war upon their kind,
That the land was red with the blood they shed,
In their lust for carnage blind.
And he said, Alas! that ever I made,
Or the 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 forebore to smite the ore,
And his furnace smoldered low.
But he rose at last with a cheerful face,
And a bright courageous eye,
And bared his strong right hand for work
While the quick flames mounted high!
And he sang, Hurra for my handicraft!
And the red sparks lit the air
Not alone for the blade was the bright steel made!
And he fashioned the first ploughshare.

And men, taught wisdom from the past,
In friendship joined their hands
Hung the sword in the hall, the spear on the wall,
And ploughed 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!
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