Verse > Anthologies > Ralph Waldo Emerson, ed. > Parnassus: An Anthology of Poetry
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Ralph Waldo Emerson, comp. (1803–1882).  Parnassus: An Anthology of Poetry.  1880.
 
The Lake of the Dismal Swamp
By Thomas Moore (1779–1852)
 
“THEY made her a grave too cold and damp
  For a soul so warm and true;
And she’s gone to the Lake of the Dismal Swamp,
Where all night long, by a firefly lamp,
  She paddles her white canoe.        5
 
And her firefly lamp I soon shall see,
  And her paddle I soon shall hear;
Long and loving our life shall be,
And I’ll hide the maid in a cypress-tree,
  When the footstep of death is near!”        10
 
Away to the Dismal Swamp he speeds,—
  His path was rugged and sore,
Through tangled juniper, beds of reeds,
Through many a fen where the serpent feeds,
  And man never trod before!        15
 
And when on the earth he sunk to sleep,
  If slumber his eyelids knew,
He lay where the deadly vine doth weep
Its venomous tear, and nightly steep
  The flesh with blistering dew!        20
 
And near him the she-wolf stirred the brake,
  And the copper-snake breathed in his ear,
Till he starting cried, from his dream awake,
“O when shall I see the dusky Lake,
  And the white canoe of my dear?”        25
 
He saw the Lake, and a meteor bright
  Quick over its surface played,—
“Welcome,” he said “my dear one’s light!”
And the dim shore echoed for many a night
  The name of the death-cold maid!        30
 
Till he hollowed a boat of the birchen bark,
  Which carried him off from shore;
Far he followed the meteor spark,
The wind was high and the clouds were dark,
  And the boat returned no more.        35
 
But oft, from the Indian hunter’s camp,
  This lover and maid so true
Are seen, at the hour of midnight damp,
To cross the Lake by a firefly lamp,
  And paddle their white canoe!        40
 
 
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