Verse > Anthologies > Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. > Poems of Places > America
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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed.  Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
America: Vols. XXV–XXIX.  1876–79.
 
New England: Penobscot, the River, Me.
The Phantom City
Frances L. Mace (1836–1899)
 
(From Norombega)

MIDSUMMER’S crimson moon,
Above the hills like some night-opening rose,
Uplifted, pours its beauty down the vale
Where broad Penobscot flows.
*        *        *        *        *
And I remember now        5
That this is haunted ground. In ages past
Here stood the storied Norembega’s walls
Magnificent and vast.
 
The streets were ivory paved,
The stately walls were built of golden ore,        10
Its domes outshone the sunset, and full boughs
Hesperian fruitage bore.
 
And up this winding flood
Has wandered many a sea-tossed daring bark,
While eager eyes have scanned the rugged shore,        15
Or pierced the wildwood dark.
 
But watched in vain; afar
They saw the spires gleam golden on the sky,
The distant drum-beat heard, or bugle-note
Wound wildly, fitfully.        20
 
Banners of strange device
Beckoned from distant heights, yet as the stream
Narrowed among the hills, the city fled
A mystery,—or a dream.
 
In the deep forest hid        25
Like the enchanted princess of romance,
Wooing an endless search, yet still secure
In her unbroken trance.
 
O city of the Past!
No mirage of the wilderness wert thou!        30
Though yet unfreed from the mysterious spell,
I deem thee slumbering now.
 
Perhaps invisible feet,
White-sandalled, pass amid the moonbeams pale;
Yon shadowy wave may be some lordly barge        35
Drifting with phantom sail.
 
The legend was not all
A myth, it was a prophecy as well;
In Norembega’s cloud-rapt palaces
The living yet shall dwell.        40
 
Fed by its hundred lakes,
Here shall the river run o’er golden sands!
These hills in burnished tower and temple shine
Beneath the Builder’s hands.
 
Where tarries still the hour        45
When the true knight shall the enchantment break?
Unveil the peerless city of the East,
The charméd princess wake?
 
Till then, O river! tell
To none but dreaming bards the Future’s boon!        50
Till then, guard thou the mystery of the vale,
Midsummer midnight moon!
 
 
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