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.
 
New England: White Mountains, N. H.
In a Cloud Rift
Lucy Larcom (1826–1893)
 
UPON our loftiest White Mountain peak,
  Filled with the freshness of untainted air,
We sat, nor cared to listen or to speak
  To one another, for the silence there
Was eloquent with God’s presence. Not a sound        5
  Uttered the winds in their unhindered sweep
Above us through the heavens. The gulf profound
  Below us seethed with mists, a sullen deep,
From thawless ice-caves of a vast ravine
Rolled sheeted clouds across the lands unseen.        10
 
How far away seemed all that we had known
  In homely levels of the earth beneath,
Where still our thoughts went wandering—“Turn thee!” Blown
  Apart before us, a dissolving wreath
Of cloud framed in a picture on the air:        15
  The fair long Saco Valley, whence we came;
The hills and lakes of Ossipee; and there
  Glimmers the sea! Some pleasant, well-known name
With every break to memory hastens back;
Monadnock,—Winnipesaukee,—Merrimack.        20
 
On widening vistas broader rifts unfold:
  Far off into the waters of Champlain
Great sunset summits dip their flaming gold;
  There winds the dim Connecticut, a vein
Of silver on aerial green; and here,        25
  The upland street of rural Bethlehem;
And there, the roofs of Bethel. Azure-clear
  Shimmers the Androscoggin; like a gem
Umbagog glistens; and Katahdin gleams
Uncertain as a mountain seen in dreams.        30
 
Our own familiar world, not yet half known,
  Nor loved enough, in tints of Paradise
Lies there before us, now so lovely grown,
  We wonder what strange film was on our eyes
Ere we climbed hither. But again the cloud,        35
  Descending, shuts the beauteous vision out;
Between us the abysses spread their shroud:
  We are to earth, as earth to us, a doubt.
Dear home folk, skyward seeking us, can see
  No crest or crag where pilgrim feet may be.        40
 
Who whispered unto us of life and death
  As silence closed upon our hearts once more?
On heights where angels sit, perhaps a breath
May clear the separating gulfs; a door
  May open sometimes betwixt earth and heaven,        45
  And life’s most haunting mystery be shown
A fog-drift of the mind, scattered and driven
  Before the winds of God: no vague unknown
Death’s dreaded path,—only a curtained stair;
And heaven but earth raised into purer air.        50
 
 
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