Verse > Anthologies > Samuel Kettell, ed. > Specimens of American Poetry
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Samuel Kettell, ed.  Specimens of American Poetry.  1829.
 
The Falls of the Passaic
By Washington Irving (1783–1859)
 
IN a wild, tranquil vale, fringed with forests of green,
Where nature had fashion’d a soft, sylvan scene,
The retreat of the ring-dove, the haunt of the deer,
Passaic in silence roll’d gentle and clear.
 
No grandeur of prospect astonish’d the sight,        5
No abruptness sublime mingled awe with delight;
Here the wild flow’ret blossom’d, the elm proudly waved,
And pure was the current the green bank that laved.
 
But the spirit that ruled o’er the thick tangled wood,
And deep in its gloom fix’d his murky abode,        10
Who loved the wild scene that the whirlwinds deform,
And gloried in thunder, and lightning, and storm;
 
All flush’d from the tumult of battle he came,
Where the red men encounter’d the children of flame,
While the noise of the war-whoop still rang in his ears,        15
And the fresh bleeding scalp as a trophy he bears:
 
With a glance of disgust, he the landscape survey’d,
With its fragrant wild flowers, its wide waving shade;—
Where Passaic meanders through margins of green,
So transparent its waters, its surface serene.        20
 
He rived the green hills, the wild woods he laid low;
He taught the pure stream in rough channels to flow;
He rent the rude rock, the steep precipice gave,
And hurl’d down the chasm the thundering wave.
 
Countless moons have since roll’d in the long lapse of time—        25
Cultivation has softened those features sublime;
The axe of the white man has lighten’d the shade,
And dispell’d the deep gloom of the thicketed glade.
 
But the stranger still gazes, with wondering eye,
On the rocks rudely torn, and groves mounted on high;        30
Still loves on the cliff’s dizzy borders to roam,
Where the torrent leaps headlong embosom’d in foam.
 
 
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