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: Norman’s Kill (Tawasentha), N. Y.
The Falls of Norman’s Kill
Alfred Billings Street (1811–1881)
 
(Excerpt)

A DAY in Indian Summer: here, the sky
Shows a bright veil of silver; there, a shade
Of soft and misty purple, with the fleece
Of downy clouds, and azure streaks between.
The light falls meekly, and the wooing air        5
Fans with a brisk vitality the frame.
The woods have lost the bright and varied charm
Of magic Autumn, and the faded leaves
Hide with one robe of brown the earth that late
Glowed like the fabled gardens of the East.        10
Still all around is lovely. Far the eye
Pierces the naked woods, and marks the shades,
Like prone black pillars with their capitals,
Formed by the sprays; and rocks, ravines, and mounds
(Hidden when Summer smiles), and sparkling rills,        15
Trickling o’er mossy stones.
                        A low, stern tone
Rumbles upon the air, as, winding down
The gullied road, I seek the gorge where flows
The stream to mingle with the river flood
In the brief eastward distance. On my left        20
Are the brown waters, a high rocky isle
Like a huge platform midway; and the steep
Tree-columned ridge, in summer dense with shades,
But ragged now with gaunt and leafless boughs,
And only green where stand the kingly pines        25
And princely hemlocks. On my right the bank,
Of slate and crumbling gravel, pitches down
Now sheer, now hollowed out, the dark blue clay
Showing its strata veins, while on the edge,
High up and dwarfed by distance, cling tall trees.        30
A rocky rampart, seamed and dashed with white,
Is piled before me, and the bending sky
Close at its back. Advancing, with the sound
Louder and louder, waters leap and gush
And foam through channelled outlets; dashing now        35
O’er terraces, now flinging o’er a rock
A shifting fringe of silver, shooting quick
Through some deep gully, like a glassy dart,
And now in one rich mass of glittering foam
Sent downward, with light particles of spray        40
In white smoke rising.
                    Like the puny wrath
Of the weak child, to manhood’s passion-burst
When his fierce heart is flaming; like the voice
Of the low west-wind, to the mighty sweep
Of the roused northern storm-blast, art thou now,        45
O rushing stream! to when the roaring rains
Have swelled thy fountains, and with thundering shocks,
Foaming and leaping, thou dost dash along,
Restrainless in thy awful force, to rend
And whirl and whelm, until a mightier wave        50
Swallows thy raging being. Bridge and tree,
Torn into fragments, roll and plunge and toss,
Till those that now might look on thee and smile,
Turn grave and tremble.
*        *        *        *        *
 
 
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