Verse > Anthologies > Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. > Poems of Places > America
  PREVIOUSNEXT  
CONTENTS · BOOK CONTENTS · BIBLIOGRAPHIC RECORD
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed.  Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
America: Vols. XXV–XXIX.  1876–79.
 
Middle States: Hudson, the River, N. Y.
Hudson River
Thomas William Parsons (1819–1892)
 
(Excerpt)

RIVERS that roll most musical in song
  Are often lovely to the mind alone;
The wanderer muses, as he moves along
  Their barren banks, on glories not their own.
 
When, to give substance to his boyish dreams,        5
  He leaves his own, far countries to survey,
Oft must he think, in greeting foreign streams,
  “Their names alone are beautiful, not they.”
 
If chance he mark the dwindled Arno pour
  A tide more meagre than his native Charles;        10
Or views the Rhone when summer’s heat is o’er,
  Subdued and stagnant in the fen of Aries;
 
Or when he sees the slimy Tiber fling
  His sullen tribute at the feet of Rome,
Oft to his thought must partial memory bring        15
  More noble waves, without renown, at home;
 
Now let him climb the Catskill, to behold
  The lordly Hudson, marching to the main,
And say what bard, in any land of old,
  Had such a river to inspire his strain.        20
 
Along the Rhine gray battlements and towers
  Declare what robbers once the realm possessed;
But here Heaven’s handiwork surpasseth ours,
  And man has hardly more than built his nest.
 
No storied castle overawes these heights,        25
  Nor antique arches check the current’s play,
Nor mouldering architrave the mind invites
  To dream of deities long passed away.
 
No Gothic buttress, or decaying shaft
  Of marble, yellowed by a thousand years,        30
Lifts a great landmark to the little craft,—
  A summer cloud! that comes and disappears.
 
But cliffs, unaltered from their primal form
  Since the subsiding of the deluge, rise
And hold their savins to the upper storm,        35
  While far below the skiff securely plies.
 
Farms, rich not more in meadows than in men
  Of Saxon mould, and strong for every toil,
Spread o’er the plain, or scatter through the glen,
  Bœotian plenty on a Spartan soil.        40
 
Then, where the reign of cultivation ends,
  Again the charming wilderness begins;
From steep to steep one solemn wood extends,
  Till some new hamlet’s rise the boscage thins.
 
And these deep groves forever have remained        45
  Touched by no axe,—by no proud owner nursed:
As now they stand they stood when Pharaoh reigned,
  Lineal descendants of creation’s first.
*        *        *        *        *
No tales, we know, are chronicled of thee
  In ancient scrolls; no deeds of doubtful claim        50
Have hung a history on every tree,
  And given each rock its fable and a fame.
 
But neither here hath any conqueror trod,
  Nor grim invaders from barbarian climes;
No horrors feigned of giant or of god        55
  Pollute thy stillness with recorded crimes.
 
Here never yet have happy fields laid waste,
  The ravished harvest and the blasted fruit,
The cottage ruined, and the shrine defaced,
  Tracked the foul passage of the feudal brute.        60
 
“Yet, O Antiquity!” the stranger sighs,
  “Scenes wanting thee soon pall upon the view;
The soul’s indifference dulls the sated eyes,
  Where all is fair indeed,—but all is new.”
 
False thought! is age to crumbling walls confined?        65
  To Grecian fragments and Egyptian bones?
Hath Time no monuments to raise the mind,
  More than old fortresses and sculptured stones?
 
Call not this new which is the only land
  That wears unchanged the same primeval face        70
Which, when just dawning from its Maker’s hand,
  Gladdened the first great grandsire of our race.
 
Nor did Euphrates with an earlier birth
  Glide past green Eden towards the unknown south,
Than Hudson broke upon the infant earth,        75
  And kissed the ocean with his nameless mouth.
 
Twin-born with Jordan, Ganges, and the Nile!
  Thebes and the pyramids to thee are young;
O, had thy waters burst from Britain’s isle,
  Till now perchance they had not flowed unsung.        80
 
 
CONTENTS · BOOK CONTENTS · BIBLIOGRAPHIC RECORD
  PREVIOUSNEXT  
 
Loading
Click here to shop the Bartleby Bookstore.

Shakespeare · Bible · Strunk · Anatomy · Nonfiction · Quotations · Reference · Fiction · Poetry
© 1993–2014 Bartleby.com · [Top 150] · Subjects · Titles · Authors