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: Hudson, the River, N. Y.
Hymn to the Hudson River
William Ross Wallace (1819–1881)
 
(Excerpt)

LOSE not a memory of the glorious scenes,
Mountains, and palisades, and leaning rocks,
Steep white-walled towns and ships that lie beneath,
By which, like some serene, heroic soul
Revolving noble thoughts, thou calmly cam’st,        5
O mighty river of the North! Thy lip
Meets Ocean here, and in deep joy he lifts
His great white brow, and gives his stormy voice
A milder tone, and murmurs pleasantly
To every shore, and bids the insolent blast        10
To touch thee very gently; for thy banks
Held empires broad and populous as the leaves
That rustle o’er their grave,—republics gone
Long, long ago, before the pale men came,
Like clouds into the dim and dusty past:        15
But there is dearer reason; for the rills
That feed thee, rise among the storied rocks
Where Freedom built her battle-tower; and blow
Their flutes of silver by the poor man’s door;
And innocent childhood in the ripple dips        20
Its rosy feet; and from the round blue sky
That circles all, smiles out a certain Godhead.
 
  O lordly river! thou shalt henceforth be
A wanderer of the deep; and thou shalt hear
The sad, wild voices of the solemn North        25
Utter uncertain words in cloudy rhythm,
But full of terrible meaning, to the wave
That moans by Labrador; and thou shalt pause
To pay thy worship in the coral temples,
The ancient Meccas of the reverent sea;        30
And thou shalt start again on thy blue path
To kiss the southern isles; and thou shalt know
What beauty thrones the blue Symplegades,
What glory the long Dardanelles; and France
Shall listen to thy calm, deep voice, and learn        35
That Freedom must be calm if she would fix
Her mountain moveless in a heaving world;
And Greece shall hear thee chant by Marathon,
And Italy shall feel thy breathing on her shores,
Where Liberty once more takes up her lance;        40
And when thou hurriest back, full of high themes,
Great Albion shall joy through every cliff,
And lordly hall, and peasant-home, and old
Cathedral where earth’s emperors sleep,—whose crowns
Were laurel and whose sceptres pen and harp,—        45
The mother of our race shall joy to hear
Thy low, sweet murmuring: her sonorous tongue
Is thine, her glory thine; for thou dost bear
On thy rejoicing tide, rejoicing at the task,
The manly Saxon sprung from her own loins        50
In far America.
                Roll on! roll on,
Thou river of the North! Tell thou to all
The isles, tell thou to all the continents
The grandeur of my land. Speak of its vales
Where Independence wears a pastoral wreath        55
Amid the holy quiet of his flock;
And of its mountains with their cloudy beards
Tossed by the breath of centuries; and speak
Of its tall cataracts that roll their bass
Among the choral of its midnight storms,        60
And of its rivers lingering through the plains,
So long, that they seem made to measure Time;
And of its lakes that mock the haughty sea;
And of its caves where banished gods might find
Night large enough to hide their crownless heads;        65
And of its sunsets, glorious and broad
Above the prairies spread like oceans on
And on, and on over the far dim leagues,
Till vision shudders o’er immensity.
Roll on! roll on, thou river of the North!        70
Bear on thy wave the music of the crash
That tells a forest’s fall, wide woods that hold
Beneath their cloistered bark a registry
Where Time may almost find how old he is.
Keep in thy memory the frequent homes,        75
That from the ruin rise, the triumphs these
Of real kings whose conquering march shines up
Into the wondering Oregon.
*        *        *        *        *
 
 
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