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.
 
Introductory to Western States
Kentucky
Sarah Morgan Bryan Piatt (1836–1919)
 
Over in Kentucky

“THIS is the smokiest city in the world,”
  A slight voice, wise and weary, said, “I know.
My sash is tied, and, if my hair was curled,
  I ’d like to have my prettiest hat and go
There where some violets had to stay, you said,        5
Before your torn-up butterflies were dead—
                        Over in Kentucky.”
 
Then one whose half-sad face still wore the hue
  The North Star loved to light and linger on,
Before the war, looked slowly at me too,        10
  And darkly whispered: “What is gone is gone.
Yet, though it may be better to be free,
I ’d rather have things as they used to be
                        Over in Kentucky.”
 
Perhaps I thought how fierce the master’s hold,        15
  Spite of all armies, kept the slave within;
How iron chains, when broken, turned to gold,
  In empty cabins, where glad songs had been
Before the Southern sword knew blood and rust,
Before wild cavalry sprang from the dust,        20
                        Over in Kentucky.
 
Perhaps—But, since two eyes, half full of tears,
  Half full of sleep, would love to keep awake
With fairy pictures from my fairy years,
  I have a phantom pencil that can make        25
Shadows of moons, far back and faint, to rise
On dewier grass and in diviner skies,
                        Over in Kentucky.
 
For yonder river, wider than the sea,
  Seems sometimes in the dusk a visible moan        30
Between two worlds,—one fair, one dear to me.
  The fair has forms of ever-glimmering stone,
Weird-whispering ruin, graves where legends hide,
And lies in mist upon the charmèd side,
                        Over in Kentucky.        35
 
The dear has restless, dimpled, pretty hands,
  Yearning toward unshaped steel, unfancied wars,
Unbuilded cities, and unbroken lands,
  With something sweeter than the faded stars
And dim, dead dews of my lost romance, found        40
In beauty that has vanished from the ground
                        Over in Kentucky.
 
 
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