Verse > Anthologies > Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. > Poems of Places > Americas
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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed.  Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
Americas: Vol. XXX.  1876–79.
 
British America: St. Lawrence (Cadaraqui), the River
The Thousand Isles
J. R. Ramsay (1849–1907)
 
(Excerpt)

’T IS evening tide, the mottled sky
  Is glorious in the sinking sun;
Now Heaven’s serene immensity
  Seems flashing forth the words, “Well done!”
And sacred, superhuman hues        5
  Adorn the dim declivity,
And shape the intermingling views
  As fair as Eden’s landscapes be.
Our bark, like fate’s strange shuttle through
  The azure web, threads onward where        10
Green islands fleck the liquid blue,
  As low clouds fleck the living air.
 
Which is an isle, and which can be
A cloud, is half a mystery;
Both are of a supernal growth,        15
And Sol’s last radiance sets on both
In one fond blush of pensive hues
(They softly flash and interfuse),
As if to beckon us away
Beyond the precincts of decay.        20
And we would follow him in high
Immeasurable majesty,
By one oblivious plunge to be
From human solitude set free,
But fear the night, so soon to cast        25
This glory by, may ever last.
 
Some isles are rocky bastions old,
Shaped when the ancient ages rolled
Around their thunder-rended forms
Earthquakes and unremembered storms.        30
But some are exquisitely planned
By Beauty’s spiritual hand
For purposes of peace, and still
They have no part in human ill.
 
Each hour a deeper ray emits,        35
That o’er the wandering water flits,
Like sanguine leaves when they forsake
The lofty branches for the lake;
Such colors tinge the beams that pass
Yon cloud’s ensanguined chrysopras.        40
Lo, every bird for joy is still
In river, vale, or island hill;
And, past the purple mounts of pine,
Lulling the winds with wands divine,
The imperial monarch of the day        45
Wheels his irrevocable way
Far off, through clouds whose living flames
Would woo the world to wiser aims;
Sweet seraphs, blushing for the sin
Of some originally kin—        50
Alas, how beautiful! they seem
Through countless centuries to dream,
Calm as the peace that comes from care,
Pure as a child’s face flushed with prayer,
Soft as a transient velvet rose,        55
Still as the waves when winds repose,
Lone as this solitude of green,
Dim as those purple depths unseen,
Vast as the visions angels spread
Around a bard’s or prophet’s bed,        60
As round the seer of Patmos shone
The sea of glass and crystal throne,
The city’s glorious streets, and all
That held his poet soul in thrall.
*        *        *        *        *
 
 
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