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: Susquehanna, the River, Pa.
Susquehanna
Elizabeth Fries Ellet (1818–1877)
 
(Excerpt)

SOFTLY the blended light of evening rests
Upon thee, lovely stream! Thy gentle tide,
Picturing the gorgeous beauty of the sky,
Onward, unbroken by the ruffling wind,
Majestically flows. Oh! by thy side,        5
Far from the tumults and the throng of men,
And the vain cares that vex poor human life,
’T were happiness to dwell, alone with thee,
And the wide, solemn grandeur of the scene.
From thy green shores, the mountains that enclose        10
In their vast sweep the beauties of the plain,
Slowly receding, toward the skies ascend,
Enrobed with clustering woods, o’er which the smile
Of Autumn in his loveliness hath passed,
Touching their foliage with his brilliant hues,        15
And flinging o’er the lowliest leaf and shrub
His golden livery. On the distant heights
Soft clouds, earth-based, repose, and stretch afar
Their burnished summits in the clear, blue heaven,
Flooded with splendor, that the dazzled eye        20
Turns drooping from the sight.—Nature is here
Like a throned sovereign, and thy voice doth tell,
In music never silent, of her power.
Nor are thy tones unanswered, where she builds
Such monuments of regal sway. These wide,        25
Untrodden forests eloquently speak,
Whether the breath of summer stir their depths,
Or the hoarse moaning of November’s blast
Strip from their boughs their covering.
*        *        *        *        *
                        Far beyond this vale,        30
That sends to heaven its incense of lone flowers,
Gay village spires ascend,—and the glad voice
Of industry is heard. So in the lapse
Of future years these ancient woods shall bow
Beneath the levelling axe,—and man’s abodes        35
Displace their sylvan honors. They will pass
In turn away; yet, heedless of all change,
Surviving all, thou still wilt murmur on,
Lessoning the fleeting race that look on thee
To mark the wrecks of time, and read their doom.        40
 
 
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