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.
 
Middle States: Callicoon, the River, N. Y.
The Callicoon in Autumn
Alfred Billings Street (1811–1881)
 
          A charming forest stream of Sullivan County, uniting with the Willewemoc and flowing into the Delaware.

FAR, in the forest’s heart, unknown
  Except to sun and breeze,
Where Solitude her dreaming throne
  Has held for centuries;
Chronicled by the rings and moss        5
That tell the flight of years across
  The seamed and columned trees,
This lovely streamlet glides along
With tribute of eternal song!
 
Now, stealing through its thickets deep        10
  In which the wood-duck hides;
Now, picturing in its basin sleep
  Its green, pool-hollowed sides;
Here, through the pebbles slow it creeps,
There, in some wild abyss it sweeps,        15
  And, foaming, hoarsely chides:
Then slides so still, its gentle swell
Scarce ripples round the lily’s bell.
 
Nature, in her autumnal dress
  Magnificent and gay,        20
Displays her brightest loveliness,
  Though nearest her decay;
The sky is spread in silvery sheen,
With breaks of tenderest blue between,
  Through which the timid ray        25
Struggles in faintest, meekest glow,
And rests in dreamy hues below.
 
The southwest airs of ladened balm
  Come breathing sweetly by,
And wake, amid the forest’s calm,        30
  One quick and shivering sigh,
Shaking, but dimpling not the glass
Of this smooth streamlet, as they pass,
  They scarcely wheel on high
The thistle’s downy, silver star,        35
To waft its pendent seed afar.
 
Sleep-like the silence, by the lapse
  Of waters only broke,
And the woodpecker’s fitful taps
  Upon the hollow oak;        40
And, mingling with the insect hum,
The beatings of the partridge drum,
  With now and then a croak,
As, on his flapping wing, the crow
O’er passes, heavily and slow.        45
 
A foliage world of glittering dyes
  Gleams brightly on the air,
As though a thousand sunset skies,
  With rainbows, blended there;
Each leaf an opal, and each tree        50
A bower of varied brilliancy,
  And all one general glare
Of splendor that o’erwhelms the sight
With dazzling and unequalled light.
 
Rich gold with gorgeous crimson, here,        55
  The birch and maple twine,
The beech its orange mingles near,
  With emerald of the pine;
And even the humble bush and herb
Are glowing with those tints superb,        60
  As though a scattered mine
Of gems upon the earth were strown,
Flashing with radiance, each its own.
 
All steeped in that delicious charm
  Peculiar to our land,        65
That comes, ere Winter’s frosty arm
  Knits Nature’s icy band;
The purple, rich, and glimmering smoke,
That forms the Indian Summer’s cloak,
  When, by soft breezes fanned,        70
For a few precious days he broods
Amid the gladdened fields and woods.
 
The squirrel chatters merrily,
  The nut falls ripe and brown,
And, gem-like, from the jewelled tree        75
  The leaf comes fluttering down;
And restless in his plumage gay,
From bush to bush loud screams the jay,
  And on the hemlock’s crown
The sentry pigeon guards from foe        80
The flock that dots the woods below.
 
See! on this edge of forest lawn,
  Where sleeps the clouded beam,
A doe has led her spotted fawn
  To gambol by the stream;        85
Beside yon mullein’s braided stalk
They hear the gurgling voices talk,
  While, like a wandering gleam,
The yellow-bird dives here and there,
A feathered vessel of the air.        90
 
On, through the rampart walls of rock,
  The waters pitch in white,
And high, in mist, the cedars lock
  Their boughs, half lost to sight
Above the whirling gulf,—the dash        95
Of frenzied floods, that vainly lash
  Their limits in their flight,
Whose roar the eagle, from his peak,
Responds to with his angriest shriek.
 
Stream of the wilds! the Indian here,        100
  Free as thy chainless flow,
Has bent against thy depths his spear,
  And in thy woods his bow,—
The beaver built his dome; but they,
The memories of an earlier day,—        105
  Like those dead trunks, that show
What once were mighty pines,—have fled
With Time’s unceasing, rapid tread.
 
 
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