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.
 
Southern States: Tallulah (Terrora), the River, Ga.
Tallulah
Paul Hamilton Hayne (1830–1886)
 
ALONE with Nature, when her passionate mood
Deepens and deepens, till from shadowy wood
And sombre shore the blended voices sound
Of five infuriate torrents, wanly crowned
With such pale-misted foam as that which starts        5
To whitening lips from frenzied human hearts!
 
Echo repeats the thunderous roll and boom
Of these vexed waters through the foliaged gloom
So wildly, in their grand, reverberant swell,
Borne from dim hillside to rock-bounded dell,        10
That oft the tumult seems
The vast, fantastic dissonance of dreams,—
A roar of adverse elements torn and riven
In gaunt recesses of some billowy hell,—
But sending ever through the tremulous air        15
Defiance, laden with august despair,
Up to the calm and pitiful face of heaven!
 
From ledge to ledge the impetuous current sweeps
Forever tortured, tameless, unsubdued,
Amid the darkly humid solitude;        20
Through waste and turbulent deeps
It cleaves a terrible pathway, overrun
Only by doubtful flickerings of the sun,
To meet with swift cross-eddies, whirlpools set
On verges of some measureless abyss;        25
Above the stir and fret,
The hollow lion’s roar, or serpent-hiss
Of whose unceasing conflict waged below
The gorges of the giant precipice,
Shines the mild splendor of a heavenly bow!        30
 
But blinded to the rainbow’s tender light,
Soft as the eyes of Mercy bent on Might,
Still with dark vapors all around it furled,
The demon-spirit of this watery world,
Through many a maddened curve and stormy throe,        35
Speeds to its last tumultuous overflow,—
When downward hurled from wildering shock to shock,
Its wild heart breaks upon the outmost rock
That guards the empire of this rule of wrath:
 
Henceforth, beyond the shattered cataract’s path,        40
The tempered spirit of a gentler guide
Enters, methinks, the unperturbèd tide,—
Its current sparkling in the blest release
From wasting passion, glides through shores of peace;
O’er brightened spaces and clear confluent calms        45
Float the hale breathings of near meadow balms;
And still by silent cove and silvery reach
The murmurous wavelets pass,
Lip the coy tendrils of the delicate grass,
And tranquil hour by hour        50
Uplift a crystal glass,
Wherein each lithe narcissus flower
May mark its slender frame and beauteous face
Mirrored in softly visionary grace,
And still, by fairy bight and shelving beach        55
The fair waves whisper, low as leaves in June—
(Small gossips lisping in their woodland bower),
And still, the ever-lessening tide
Lapses, as glides some once imperious life
From haughty summits of demoniac pride,        60
Hatred, and vengeful strife
Down through Time’s twilight-valleys purified,
Yearning alone to keep
A long predestined tryst with Night and Sleep,
Beneath the dew-soft kisses of the moon!        65
 
 
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