Verse > Anthologies > Hamilton Fish Armstrong, ed. > The Book of New York Verse
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Hamilton Fish Armstrong, ed.  The Book of New York Verse.  1917.
 
Hudson’s Last Voyage, 1611 (abridged)
By Henry van Dyke
 
                SON, have you forgot
Those mellow autumn days, two years ago,
When first we sent our little ship Half-Moon,
The flag of Holland floating at her peak,—
Across a sandy bar, and sounded in        5
Among the channels, to a goodly bay
Where all the navies of the world could ride?
A fertile island that the redmen called
Manhattan, lay above the bay: the land
Around was bountiful and friendly fair.        10
But never land was fair enough to hold
The seaman from the calling of the sea.
And so we bore to westward of the isle,
Along a mighty inlet, where the tide
Was troubled by a downward-flowing flood        15
That seemed to come from far away,—perhaps
From some mysterious gulf of Tartary?
 
Inland we held our course; by palisades
Of naked rock where giants might have built
Their fortress; and by rolling hills adorned        20
With forests rich in timber for great ships;
Through narrows where the mountains shut us in
With frowning cliffs that seemed to bar the stream;
And then through open reaches where the banks
Sloped to the water gently, with their fields        25
Of corn and lentils smiling in the sun.
Ten days we voyaged through that placid land,
Until we came to shoals, and sent a boat
Upstream to find,—what I already knew,—
We travelled on a river, not a strait.        30
 
But what a river! God has never poured
A stream more royal through a land more rich.
Even now I see it flowing in my dream,
While coming ages people it with men
Of manhood equal to the river’s pride.        35
I see the wigwams of the redmen changed
To ample houses, and the tiny plots
Of maize and green tobacco broadened out
To prosperous farms, that spread o’er hill and dale
The many-coloured mantle of their crops;        40
I see the terraced vineyard on the slope
Where now the fox-grape loops its tangled vine;
And cattle feeding where the red deer roam;
And wild-bees gathered into busy hives,
To store the silver comb with golden sweet;        45
And all the promised land begins to flow
With milk and honey. Stately manors rise
Along the banks, and castles top the hills,
And little villages grow populous with trade,
Until the river runs as proudly as the Rhine,—        50
The thread that links a hundred towns and towers!
And looking deeper in my dream, I see
A mighty city covering the isle
They call Manhattan, equal in her state
To all the older capitals of earth,—        55
The gateway city of a golden world,—
A city girt with masts, and crowned with spires,
And swarming with a host of busy men,
While to her open door across the bay
The ships of all the nations flock like doves.        60
My name will be remembered there, for men
Will say, “This river and this isle were found
By Henry Hudson, on his way to seek
The Northwest Passage into Farthest Inde.”
 
 
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