The Birth Of The Land


For a thousand years the Devil crouched  On the white hot flags of hell:

For a thousand years the Devil cursed  The imps that had chained him well;

For a thousand years the Devil sulked  And planned with his hell-trained

Of the things he'd do, when his term was thru,  And freed from the blistering chain.

He'd even the score with the men of earth,  And give them back pain for pain,

For all of the days he had felt the blaze  And the sear of the galling chain.

And it came to pass when his time was up  And hell's gates were opened

That all hell rang, and the clinkered imps sang  When the Devil passed Outside."I have served my time," the Devil said  As he halted by heaven's gate;

I have sweated in hell for a thousand years  And each year was a year of hate.

I have framed my plans for a thousand years,  I have worked out the details

Now I'd have a place near the human race  As a sort of a prep school for hell.

The sons of men, on the earth below  Have scarcely a chance to sin,

Churched, belled and gowned, they mope around  By precept, all sealed in;

There is never a sin for lust of flesh  Nor sin for a man struck blow,

And the red blood crime of the olden time  Has passed with the long ago.

Hell's motley crew is scarce worth coal  When they come to the thing called death;

They squat on the coals with the real damned souls  And listen with bated breath,

To the tales of the earth, when the world was new,

When a man had to fight for his own,

When he took his wife at the risk of his life  And killed for a half-baked bone.

Now I'd build a place where a man might sin  For the sake of his own desires;

Make his the cause, and his the laws,  And the penalty, mine own fires;

Hast a place on earth to breed such men  Each for his own deeds blamed?

If you'll give me a place,

I'll breed a race  That hell may not be shamed.

The God King sighed as he searched the plat  And the map of the earth below;

I have given a place for every race  In the belt from snow to snow.

I have given a home to each bird and beast  For even the fox has its hole,

I have given all land to the sons of man  And I've builded a home for his soul.

In the seven days that I toiled below  When I builded the seas and lands,

There was much to do, and I didn't get thru  And one place unfinished stands.

It's the part of my work that I really regret,  For I know it's the worst of the lot,

It's known down below as The Land of the Snow,  Or,

The Country that God forgot.

It stands apart by the Northern Pole,  Unfinished, forgotten, alone,

And no man's hand has won this land,  And no man calls it his own.

The country is made up of odds and ends,  Unfinished mountain, and swamp and lake,

Stuff that couldn't be used when the earth was fused;  If you want it, it's yours to take."I'll take this plot," the Devil quoth,  "For I like your description well,

Yes,

I'll take this place and I'll mould a race  That will be a credit to hell."Then he whistled an imp from the uttermost part  And they dropped as the comets

Past the white baked stars, past Venus and Mars  To the unfinished part of the world.

He landed at last on Denali's crest  And he gazed on his acres wide--Barren and bleak, from each mountain peak  And swamp to the Arctic's tide.

The Devil grinned as he stood and gazed  Said he, "This is just what I need,

It's the place of my plan, for the downfall of man  Where I'll change his ambition to greed."Then he summoned the legions of hell to his side  Named an arch imp to straw boss each crew.

Tho they gibbered and cursed, each one did the worst  With the jobs Satan gave them to do.

They tumbled the mountains high up, and on end,  Piled glaciers where streams ought to be,

And swamp land was placed in the desolate waste  That stretched from the hills to the sea.

They shook down all hell for a climate to fit,  But they couldn't get suited in hell,

So they took the worst parts and with devilish arts  They built one that suited them well.

They laid out muck swamps where the water lies dead  Bred mosquitoes and moose flies and

Put the brown bear that kills on the barren brown hills  And with quill pigs infested the flats.

They shut off the sun for full half of the year,  Made each glacier a blizzard blown trap,

They strung out volcanoes half way to Japan  Each one with a hair trigger cap.

They planned for the coast line a system of storms  Each equipped with a ninety mile

And then spread o'er it all the fog that men call  The North Coast mantle of death.

Then knowing full well that man would not go  To a Land so forlorn to behold,

He salted the hillsides and some of the streams  With nuggets and traces of gold.

He tinted the hills with a green copper ledge  And covered the valleys with game,

All this for a lure, then the Devil felt sure  That the white man would fall for the same.      *      *      *      *

HE

The lure of the little known places  Still calls, as it called to your sires;

The longing for wide open spaces,  The perfume of evening camp fires;

The hunting for treasure unfound yet  The knocking at fortune's own gate;

The doing of deeds for the joy that it breeds  Were all used by the Devil as bait.

The summers besprinkled with sunshine,  The hillsides a riot of

With meadows a color shot grandeur  And valleys as still as a tomb.

With mountains of cloud-encased beauty  Or with stars shining down on it

It's the trails we don't know that call us to go  And no wonder man heeded the call.

The winters, the trails all unbroken,  The far fields that beckon and call;

The song of the frost on the runners  And the Northern Lights high over all;

The trees in the bend of the river,  The streams that nobody has spanned;

The whisper of gold, the story half told,  All this by the Devil was planned.

When the trap of the Devil was ready  Widespread went the whisper of gold,

And the white men stampeded like cattle,  There never was tie that could hold.

The first mad rush to the Northland  When the scum from the four ends of

Came in with a rush, a scramble, a crush  Like scrap in a fusing pot hurled.

They came all untaught and not ready,  Spurred on in the mad rush for gold;

They died here unsung and uncared for  Of famine, and scurvy and cold.

They had the same laws as the wolf pack,  Stay up, for you die if you fail,

And the paths to the Northern placers  Are marked by their graves on the trail.

The towns that they started were plague spots  With brothels and dance halls aglare,

With cribs, faro banks and roulette wheels  And phonographs adding their blare.

All traps for the young and unwary,  All builded to help with his fall,

Never dealer was fair, never game on the square  For the Devil presided o'er all.

Nick fiendishly grinned when he saw his work  And he chuckled with devilish glee--"When it comes to making an up-to-date hell  They've sure got to hand it to me.

For every ten souls that come in to this land  There's nine of them headed for

With never a fight, the percentage is right,  And my prep school is doing quite well."      *      *      *      *      *Thus for a time he ruled this land  Where few might venture forth,

For never a man-made law held good  From Dixon's Entrance north.

He held this land in his claw tipped grip,  And he took his pay in souls,

Theirs was the blame, for they played his game,  And they paid for it on hell's coals.

But the Devil lost when the law came in,  Or the men who made the laws,

The gambling hall and the dance hall went  And the Devil was forced to pause.

For the life in the land develops men,  Men of an alien breed,

A new made lot, that couldn't be bought,  And strangers to graft or greed.

They loosed the land from the Devil's grip,  They pierced the hills with their trails,

They flagged the rocks at the harbor's mouth,  They paved the way for the rails.

They builded a school where the dance hall stood  And they brought in their children and wives;

They gave their all to the new land's call  And some of them gave their lives.

Now the pimp and the brothel have passed away  And the gambling hall is a dream;

A railroad train now follows the trail  Where we followed a nine-dog team.

A thousand stamps now sing their song  Where we panned on the gold shot ledge,

And a picture show now marks the line  That once was the frontier's edge.

The milch cows graze where the brown bear roamed  And a saw mill sings its

On a bar in the Yukon River  Where we panned one summer day.

They are raising wheat where the bull moose grazed  In the summers of long ago,

It seems kind of strange when we note the change,  But we'd rather have it so.      *      *      *      *      *Yet, sometimes we dream as we camp at night  In the bend of the river's

Of the land that was, of the land we knew  In the days of the long ago.

The wild free land that bred the men  Who fought with might and

And took this land from the Devil's hand,  And we'd like to see it again,

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