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Lighter Lyr Add: The Green Mountaineer (6) Ly r Add: S 24 Mar 21

This Vermont song was first recorded by Dorothy Mesney, who sings it on "Patchwork and Powder Horn: Songs of the American Revolution" (Folkways, 1975). She may have taken it from Helen Flanders's "New Green Mountain Songster," but I haven't seen that version.

Vermont is called "The Green Mountain State."


Ho, all to the borders, Vermonters come down,
With your breeches of deerskin, your jackets of brown,
With your red woolen caps and your moccasins come,
To the gathering summons of trumpet and drum.
Come down with your rifle, let gray wolf and fox.,
Howl on in the shadow of primitive rocks,
Let bear feed securely from pigpen and stall,
Here's two-legged game for your powder and ball.

CHORUS: Then cheer, cheer, the Green Mountaineer.

We owe no allegiance, we bow to no throne,
Our ruler is law and the law is our own.
Our leaders themselves are our own fellow men,
Who can handle the sword, or the scythe, or the pen,
Hurrah for Vermont, for the land that we till,
Must have sons to defend her from valley and hill,
Our vow is recorded, our banner unfurled,
In the name of Vermont, we defy all the world.

CHORUS: Then cheer, cheer, the Green Mountaineer.

But Mesny's song comes straight from the following poem by John Greenleaf Whittier, which appeared not during the Revolution but in June, 1833, in the New England Magazine, Vol. 4.

               THE SONG OF THE VERMONTERS. 1779.

Ho all to the borders! Vermonters, come down,
With your breeches of deer-skin, and jackets of brown;
With your red woolen caps, and your mocassins, come
To the gathering summons of trumpet and drum.

Come down with your rifles! - let gray wolf and fox
Howl on in the shade of their primitive rocks;
Let the bear feed securely from pig-pen and stall;
Here's a two-legged game for your powder and ball.

On our South come the Dutchmen, enveloped in grease;
And, arming for battle, while canting of peace;
On our East, crafty Meshech has gathered his band,
To hang up our leaders, and eat out our land.

Ho - to the rescue! For Satan shall work
No gain for his legions of Hampshire and York!
They claim our professions, - the pitiful knaves
The tribute we pay, shall be prisons and graves!

Let Clinton and Ten Broek with bribes in their hands,
Still seek to divide us, and parcel our lands;
We've coats for our traitors, whoever they are;
The warp is of feathers the filling of tar!

Does the "old bay State" threaten? Does Congress complain?
Swarms Hampshire in arms on our borders again?
Bark the war-dogs of Britain aloud on the lake?
Let 'em come; - what they can, they are welcome to take.

What seek they among us? The pride of our wealth
Is comfort, contentment, and labor and health,
And lands which, as Freemen, we only have trod,
Independent of all, save the mercies of God.

Yet we owe no allegiance; we bow to no throne;
Our ruler is law, and the law is our own;
Our leaders themselves are our own fellow-men,
Who can handle the sword, or the scythe, or the pen.

Our wives are all true and our daughters are fair,
With their blue eyes of smiles, and their light-flowing hair;
All brisk at their wheels till the dark even-fall,
Then blithe at the sleigh-ride, the husking, and ball!

We've sheep on the hill sides; we've cows on the plain;
And gay-tasseled corn-fields, and rank-growing grain;
There are deer on the mountains; and wood-pigeons fly
From the crack of our muskets, like clouds on the sky.

And there's fish in our streamlets and rivers, which take
Their course from the hills to our broad-bosomed lake;
Through rock-arched Winnooski the salmon leaps free,
And the portly shad follows all fresh from the sea.

Like a sun-beam the pickerel glides through his pool;
And the spotted trout sleeps where the water is cool,
Or darts from his shelter of rock and of root
At the beaver's quick plunge, or the angler's pursuit.

And ours are the mountains, which awfully rise
Till they rest their green heads on the blue of the skies;
And ours are the forests unwasted, unshorn,
Save where the wild path of the tempest is torn.

And though savage and wild be this climate of ours,
And brief be our season of fruits and of flowers,
Far dearer the blast, round our mountains which raves,
Than the sweet summer zephyr, which breathes over slaves!

Hurra for Vermont! for the land which we till
Must have sons to defend her from valley and hill;
Leave the harvest to rot on the field where it grows,
And the reaping of wheat for the reaping of foes.

From far Michiscoui's wild valley, to where
Poosoomsuck steals down from his wood-circled lair,
From Shocticook river to Lutterlock town,
Ho all to the rescue! Vermonters, come down!

Come York or come Hampshire, come traitors and knaves;
If ye rule o'er our land, ye shall rule o'er our graves;
Our vow is recorded - our banner unfurled;
In the name of Vermont we defy all the world!

The magazine's explanatory notes are too elaborate to give here - but the poem isn't about the Revolution as such, but about the region's own declaration of independence from the territorial claims of New York and New Hampshire. The result was the independent Vermont Republic, which lasted from 1777 to 1791.

Much of the poem is sung here, to Mesney's (own?) tune, by Erik Frandsen and others, with Mesney's refrain and the more familiar Hessians and redcoats substituted:

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