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.
 
Southern States: Shenandoah, the Valley, Va.
By the Shenandoah
Edna Dean Proctor (1829–1923)
 
MY home is drear and still to-night,
  Where Shenandoah, murmuring, flows;
The Blue Ridge towers in the pale moonlight,
  And balmily the south-wind blows;
But my fire burns dim, while athwart the wall,        5
Black as the pines, the shadows fall;
And the only friend within my door
Is the sleeping hound on the moonlit floor.
 
Roll back, O weary years! and bring
  Again the gay and cloudless morn        10
When every bird was on the wing,
  And my blithe summer boys were born!
My Courtney fair, my Philip bold,
With his laughing eyes and his locks of gold,—
No nested bird in the valley wide        15
Sang as my heart, that eventide.
 
Our laurels blush when May-winds call;
  Our pines shoot high through mellow showers;
So rosy-flushed, so slender-tall,
  My boys grew up from childhood’s hours.        20
Glad in the breeze, the sun, the rain,
They climbed the heights or they roamed the plain;
And found where the fox lay hid at noon,
And the shy fawn drank by the rising moon.
 
Fleet Storm, look up! you ne’er may hear,        25
  When all the dewy glades are still,
In silver windings, fine and clear,
  Their whistle stealing o’er the hill!
And fly to the shade where the wild deer rest,
Ere morn has reddened the mountain’s crest;        30
Nor sit at their feet, when the chase is o’er,
And the antlers hang by the sunset-door.
 
What drew our hunters from the hills?
  They heard the hostile trumpets blow,
And leapt adown like April rills        35
  When Shenandoah roars below.
One, to the field where the old flag shines,
And one, alas! to the traitor lines!
My tears,—their fond arms round me thrown,—
And the house was hushed on the hillside lone.        40
 
But oh! to feel my boys were foes
  Was sharper than their sabres’ steel!
In every shifting cloud that rose
  I saw their deadly squadrons wheel;
And heard in the waves, as they hurried by,        45
Their hasty tread when the light was nigh,
And, deep in the wail which the night-winds bore,
Their dying moan when the fight was o’er.
 
So time went on.—The skies were blue;
  Our wheat-fields yellow in the sun;        50
When down the vale a rider flew:
  “Ho! neighbors, Gettysburg is won!
Horse and foot, at the cannon’s mouth
We hurled them back to the hungry South;
The North is safe; and the vile marauder        55
Curses the hour he crossed the border.”
 
My boys were there! I nearer prest,—
  “And Philip, Courtney, what of them?”
His voice dropped low: “Oh, madam, rest
  Falls sweet when battle’s tide we stem.        60
Your Philip was first of the brave that day
With his colors grasped as in death he lay;
And Courtney—well, I only knew
Not a man was left of his rebel crew.”
*        *        *        *        *
My home is drear and still to-night        65
  Where Shenandoah, murmuring, flows;
The Blue Ridge towers in the pale moonlight,
  And balmily the south-wind blows;
But my fire burns dim, while athwart the wall,
Black as the pines, the shadows fall;        70
And the only friend within my door
Is the sleeping hound on the moonlit floor.
 
Yet still in dreams my boys I own;
  They chase the deer o’er dewy hills,
Their hair by mountain winds is blown,        75
  Their shout the echoing valley fills.
Wafts from the woodland, spring sunshine,
Come as they open this door of mine,
And I hear them sing by the evening blaze
The songs they sang in the vanished days.        80
 
I cannot part their lives and say,
  “This was the traitor, this the true”;
God only knows why one should stray,
  And one go pure death’s portals through.
They have passed from their mother’s clasp and care;        85
But my heart ascends in the yearning prayer
That His larger love will the two enfold,—
My Courtney fair and my Philip bold!
 
 
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