Verse > John Greenleaf Whittier > The Poetical Works in Four Volumes
John Greenleaf Whittier (1807–1892).  The Poetical Works in Four Volumes.  1892.
Poems of Nature
A Mystery
THE RIVER hemmed with leaning trees
  Wound through its meadows green;
A low, blue line of mountains showed
  The open pines between.
One sharp, tall peak above them all        5
  Clear into sunlight sprang:
I saw the river of my dreams,
  The mountains that I sang!
No clue of memory led me on,
  But well the ways I knew;        10
A feeling of familiar things
  With every footstep grew.
Not otherwise above its crag
  Could lean the blasted pine;
Not otherwise the maple hold        15
  Aloft its red ensign.
So up the long and shorn foot-hills
  The mountain road should creep;
So, green and low, the meadow fold
  Its red-haired kine asleep.        20
The river wound as it should wind;
  Their place the mountains took;
The white torn fringes of their clouds
  Wore no unwonted look.
Yet ne’er before that river’s rim        25
  Was pressed by feet of mine,
Never before mine eyes had crossed
  That broken mountain line.
A presence, strange at once and known,
  Walked with me as my guide;        30
The skirts of some forgotten life
  Trailed noiseless at my side.
Was it a dim-remembered dream?
  Or glimpse through æons old?
The secret which the mountains kept        35
  The river never told.
But from the vision ere it passed
  A tender hope I drew,
And, pleasant as a dawn of spring,
  The thought within me grew,        40
That love would temper every change,
  And soften all surprise,
And, misty with the dreams of earth,
  The hills of Heaven arise.


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