A Pen of Steel

Give me a pen of steel!
Away with the gray goose-quill!
I will grave the thoughts I feel
With a fiery heart and will:
I will grave with the stubborn pen
On the tablets of the heart,
Words never to fade again
And thoughts that shall ne’er depart.

Give me a pen of steel!
Hardened and bright and keen,—
To run like the chariot wheel,
When the battle-flame is seen:—
And give me the warrior’s heart,
To struggle thro’ night and day,
And to write with this thing of art
Words clear as the lightning’s play.

Give me a pen of steel!
The softer age is done,
And the thoughts that lovers feel
Have long been sought and won:—
No more of the gray goose-quill—
No more of the lover’s lay—
I have done with the minstrel’s skill,
And I change my path to-day.

Give me a pen of steel!
I will tell to after-times
How nerve and iron will
Are poured to the world in rhymes:—
How the soul is changed to power,
And the heart is changed to flame,
In the space of a passing hour
By poverty and shame!

Give me a pen of steel!—
But even this shall rust,
The touch of time shall feel,
And crumble away to dust:—
So perishes my heart,
Corroding day by day—
And laid like the pen apart,
Worn out and cast away!

George Pratt, 1832–1875

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