Verse > Anthologies > Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. > Poems of Places > America
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed.  Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
America: Vols. XXV–XXIX.  1876–79.
Introductory to Western States
To the West
William D. Gallagher (1808–1894)
  LAND of the West!—green forest-land!
    Clime of the fair, and the immense!
  Favorite of Nature’s liberal hand,
    And child of her munificence!
    Filled with a rapture warm, intense,        5
  High on a cloud-girt hill I stand;
    And with clear vision gazing thence,
  Thy glories round me far expand:
    Rivers, whose likeness earth has not,
  And lakes, that elsewhere seas would be,        10
    Whose shores the countless wild herds dot,
  Fleet as the winds, and all as free;
    Mountains that pierce the bending sky;
  And with the storm-cloud warfare wage,
    Shooting their glittering peaks on high,        15
  To mock the fierce red lightning’s rage;
    Arcadian vales, with vine-hung bowers,
  And grassy nooks, ’neath beechen shade,
    Where dance the never-resting Hours,
  To music of the bright cascade;        20
    Skies softly beautiful, and blue
  As Italy’s, with stars as bright;
    Flowers rich as morning’s sunrise hue,
  And gorgeous as the gemmed midnight.
    Land of the West! green forest-land!        25
    Thus hath Creation’s bounteous hand
  Upon thine ample bosom flung
Charms such as were her gift when the gray world was young!
  Land of the West!—where naught is old
    Or fading, but tradition hoary,—        30
  Thy yet unwritten annals hold
    Of many a daring deed the story!
  Man’s might of arm hath here been tried,
    And woman’s glorious strength of soul,—
  When war’s fierce shout rang far and wide,        35
    When vengeful foes at midnight stole
  On slumbering innocence, and gave
    Nor onset-shout nor warning word,
    Nor nature’s strong appealings heard
  From woman’s lips, to “spare and save        40
    Her unsuspecting little one,
    Her only child—her son! her son!”
  Unheard the supplicating tone,
Which ends in now a shriek, and now a deep death-groan!
  Land of the West!—green forest-land!        45
    Thine early day for deeds is famed
  Which in historic page shall stand
    Till bravery is no longer named.
  Thine early day!—it nursed a band
    Of men who ne’er their lineage shamed:        50
  The iron-nerved, the bravely good,
  Who neither spared nor lavished blood,—
    Aye ready, morn, or night, or noon;
  Fleet in the race, firm in the field,
  Their sinewy arms their only shield,—        55
  Courage to Death alone to yield;
    The men of Daniel Boon!
  Their dwelling-place the “good green-wood”;
    Their favorite haunts the long arcade,
  The murmuring and majestic flood,        60
    The deep and solemn shade,
  Where to them came the word of God,
  When storm and darkness were abroad,
    Breathed in the thunder’s voice aloud,
    And writ in lightning on the cloud.        65
  And thus they lived: the dead leaves oft,
    Heaped by the playful winds, their bed;
  Nor wished they couch more warm or soft,
    Nor pillow for the head
  Other than fitting root or stone,        70
  With the scant wood-moss overgrown.
  Heroic band! But they have passed,
    As pass the stars at rise of sun,
  Melting into the ocean vast
    Of Time, and sinking, one by one;        75
  Yet lingering here and there a few,
  As if to take a last, long view
  Of the domain they won in strife
  With foes who battled to the knife.
  Peace unto those that sleep beneath us!        80
All honor to the few that yet do linger with us!
  Land of the West!—thine early prime
  Fades in the flight of hurrying Time;
  Thy noble forests fall, as sweep
  Europa’s myriads o’er the deep;        85
  And thy broad plains, with welcome warm,
  Receive the onward-pressing swarm:
  On mountain-height, in lowly vale,
    By quiet lake, or gliding river,—
  Wherever sweeps the chainless gale,        90
    Onward sweep they, and forever.
  Oh, may they come with hearts that ne’er
  Can bend a tyrant’s chain to wear;
  With souls that would indignant turn,
  And proud oppression’s minions spurn;        95
  With nerves of steel, and words of flame,
To strike and sear the wretch who ’d bring our land to shame!
  Land of the West!—beneath the Heaven
    There ’s not a fairer, lovelier clime;
  Nor one to which was ever given        100
    A destiny more high, sublime.
  From Alleghany’s base, to where
    Our Western Andes prop the sky,—
  The home of Freedom’s hearts is there,—
    And o’er it Freedom’s eagles fly.        105
  And here, should e’er Columbia’s land
    Be rent with fierce intestine feud,
  Shall Freedom’s latest cohorts stand,
    Till Freedom’s eagles sink in blood,
And quenched are all the stars that now her banners stud!        110

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