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.
 
Middle States: Hudson, the River, N. Y.
The Indian Mound
Alfred Billings Street (1811–1881)
 
                        THE MOUND now towers
Close to my step. The grouped sheep scamper wide,
Turn their smooth, pointed faces, gaze and bleat,
Then scamper as before.
                    The crest I win.
A hazed horizon of aerial tints,        5
Melting the mountains to a tender dream,
Tinging the nearer hills, and quivering round
The neighboring roofs in hues that scarce are hues,
But delicate shadows, fleeting breaths of hues,
Semi-transparent veils of shimmering light.        10
At length the landscape struggles clearer out;
Mountains and woodlands outlined dim, with curves
Of filmy hills and streaks of gauzy green.
The lowering eye then lights upon the domes
And steeples of the city; then the broad        15
Transparent river. Thence dark crossing lines
Of fences, nestling homesteads, scattered trees,
Red buckwheat stubbles, withered stacks of corn,
And fading fields, come stretching to the Mound.
I hear Æolian tones: the rapid bark,        20
The mellowed low, the pleasant bleat, the hum
Of toil, the shout, the whistle, and the song,
Keen clink of scythe, and now and then the smite
Of hoof upon the road, the whir of wheels
On the smooth track, and then the rumble brief        25
Over the bridge. The heaped hay-wagon jerks
Across the mounded field, its hillock brown
Holding the harvesters, with pitchforks struck
Within the odorous mass. White cattle gleam
From apple-shades, the red kine mingling in        30
So as scarce rounding forth. The unkempt colt
Perks his observant ear, and glares as goes
The tottering wagon with the welcome hay
Through the barn’s weedy lane.
                        A sketch of smoke
Catches my eye; the narrow steamboat glides        35
Along the mirrored river; to the shore
Dances the swell. The tall and tapering sloop,
Lazily next, with her great mainsail spread
To catch the air, moves past; then darts a skiff
With glittering oars.
                    While drinking in the scene,
        40
My mind goes back upon the tide of years,
And lo, a vision! On its upward path
The Half-Moon glides. The crowded forests lean
Their foliage in the waters, and expand
One sea of leaves all round me. On the deck        45
Stands the bold Hudson, gazing at the sights
Opening successive,—point and rock and hill,
Majestic mountain-top, and nestling vale.
As the white sail glints sudden to the sun,
Off swings the eagle from the neighboring pine;        50
And as the long boom brushes by the brink,
The brown bear jolts away within the bush,
The drinking deer winks from the sandy point,
And breath-like from the ledge the panther melts.
As up some reach the vessel moves, within        55
The archway of a creek the bark canoe
Darts arrow-like; as turns the prow in-shore
The Indian hunter with recoiling form
Stands grasping idly his forgotten bow;
And as the yacht around some headland breaks,        60
Amid the rounded wigwams on the bank
Leap startled movements of tumultuous life,
Pointing with eager haste, and gazing wild.
Still on the Half-Moon glides; before her rise
Swarms of quick water-fowl, and from her prow        65
The sturgeon leaps, and falls with echoing splash.
Between the frequent islets brimmed with leaves
The sheldrake, in his green and silver, shoots,
And antlers stem the gloss. But now the sun
Slants low, and by an island of the stream        70
The anchor plunges, and the Half-Moon sits
Still as a sleeping duck. I start, and wake.
The busy river-scene again extends
In the soft sundown glow. The grouping herds
Through the sleek fields of golden velvet graze        75
Slow toward the farm-yard; softened rural sounds—
The wheezing bellow, the quick, peevish bleat,
And the clear, jerking crow—fall on my ear;
And, with quick footsteps through the amber scene,
Past maple-nestling homesteads, where the steeds        80
Unloosed are led to water; where the kine,
Patient, await within the lane, the pail;
And where the mouse-like wren creeps in and out
Its little cottage fastened to the tree,
To give one chatter more; past laboring groups        85
Loitering along with instruments of toil,
Past farmers’ wagons clattering toward their homes
From city barterings,—contrast strong to when,
A century since, one forest clothed the whole,
One silent solitude,—the river’s bank        90
I reach, where, in the hush, the rowlock sounds
Loud, and the tiller of the crawling sloop
Creaks louder; thence, swift wafted o’er the tide,
I gain the peopled streets that hold my home;
Dwelling upon the everlasting stream        95
Of change and progress coursing through the world.
 
 
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