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.
Western States: Ohio, the River
The Ohio
Thomas Buchanan Read (1822–1872)
(From The New Pastoral)

LO, our waiting ark is freighted;
  In its depths of oak and pine
All our household gods are gathered,
  Thine, my noble friend, and mine!
Here the laughter-loving children        5
  Gaze, with wonder-filling eyes,
With the maidens whose emotions,
  Like the waters, fall and rise.
Here are youths whose westward fancies
  Chase the forest-sheltered game;        10
Here are men with soul and sinew
  Which no wilderness can tame.
Here are matrons, full of courage,—
  Worthy these the pioneers,—
And the patriarch lends a sanction        15
  In the wisdom of his years.
Axe and team, and plough and sickle,
  In the hold are gathered all;
And, methinks, I hear the woodlands,
  Mid their thundering echoes, fall.        20
And behold the great logs blazing,
  Till the ashen fields are bare,
And a boundless harvest springing,—
  The response of toil and prayer!
Draw the foot-board, loose the cables,        25
  Free the wharf, and man the oars;
Give the broad keel to the river,
  Bid adieu to crowded shores:
Wharves where Europe’s venturous exiles
  Throng with all their hopes and cares,—        30
Sires of future states of freemen,
  Standing mid their waiting wares.
Bid adieu the Iron City,
  With its everlasting roar,
Whose Niagara of traffic        35
  Flows to westward evermore.
Where the cloud swings into heaven,
  And the furnace flames disgorge,
With the multitudinous clamor
  Of the factory and the forge.        40
In yon mountains, like the eagles,
  Brood the rivers at their springs,
Then descend, with sudden swooping,
  On their far and flashing wings.
Here the dashing Alleghany        45
  And Monongahela meet,
And a moment whirl and dally
  Round the city’s crowded feet;
Till, anon, with wedded pinions,
  How they sweep the shores as one,        50
Driving westward, ever westward,
  In the pathway of the sun.
Like a cloud upon the storm-wind,
  Now our heaving ark careers;
Or some great bridge which a freshet        55
  Bears in triumph from its piers.
Down we sweep; and yonder steamer
  Smoking round the distant hill,
With its swift wheel flashing splendor,
  Like the loud wheel of a mill,        60
Shall not fright us, though the waters
  Sweep our deck with foamy force,
While the angel of Adventure,
  With true courage, guides our course.
And the river, like our purpose,        65
  Brooks no voice which bids it wait,
Bearing onward, ever onward,
  Where the forest opes its gate;
Opes the gate that hung for ages,
  Rusting in its old repose,        70
Which, once swung upon its hinges,
  There ’s no giant hand can close.
Far beyond that ancient portal
  We will pitch our camp, nor rest
Till from out our forest cabins        75
  Spring the homesteads of the West.

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