Verse > John Greenleaf Whittier > The Poetical Works in Four Volumes
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John Greenleaf Whittier (1807–1892).  The Poetical Works in Four Volumes.  1892.
 
Appendix I. Early and Uncollected Verses
Mount Agiochook
 
          The Indians supposed the White Mountains were the residence of powerful spirits, and in consequence rarely ascended them.

GRAY searcher of the upper air,
  There ’s sunshine on thy ancient walls,
A crown upon thy forehead bare,
  A flash upon thy waterfalls.
A rainbow glory in the cloud        5
  Upon thine awful summit bowed,
The radiant ghost of a dead storm!
  And music from the leafy shroud
Which swathes in green thy giant form,
  Mellowed and softened from above        10
Steals downward to the lowland ear,
  Sweet as the first, fond dream of love
That melts upon the maiden’s ear.
 
The time has been, white giant, when
  Thy shadows veiled the red man’s home,        15
And over crag and serpent den,
And wild gorge where the steps of men
  In chase or battle might not come,
The mountain eagle bore on high
  The emblem of the free of soul,        20
And, midway in the fearful sky,
Sent back the Indian battle cry,
  And answered to the thunder’s roll.
 
The wigwam fires have all burned out,
  The moccasin has left no track;        25
Nor wolf nor panther roam about
  The Saco and the Merrimac.
And thou, that liftest up on high
Thy mighty barriers to the sky,
  Art not the haunted mount of old,        30
Where on each crag of blasted stone
Some dreadful spirit found his throne,
  And hid within the thick cloud fold,
Heard only in the thunder’s crash,
Seen only in the lightning’s flash,        35
When crumbled rock and riven branch
Went down before the avalanche!
 
No more that spirit moveth there;
  The dwellers of the vale are dead;
No hunter’s arrow cleaves the air;        40
  No dry leaf rustles to his tread.
The pale-face climbs thy tallest rock,
His hands thy crystal gates unlock;
From steep to steep his maidens call,
Light laughing, like the streams that fall        45
In music down thy rocky wall,
And only when their careless tread
Lays bare an Indian arrow-head,
Spent and forgetful of the deer,
Think of the race that perished here.        50
 
Oh, sacred to the Indian seer,
  Gray altar of the men of old!
Not vainly to the listening ear
  The legends of thy past are told,—
Tales of the downward sweeping flood,        55
When bowed like reeds thy ancient wood;
Of armëd hands, and spectral forms;
Of giants in their leafy shroud,
And voices calling long and loud
In the dread pauses of thy storms.        60
For still within their caverned home
Dwell the strange gods of heathendom!

  1829.
 
 
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