Verse > Anthologies > Samuel Kettell, ed. > Specimens of American Poetry
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Samuel Kettell, ed.  Specimens of American Poetry.  1829.
 
From the Vision of Columbus
By Joel Barlow (1754–1812)
 
  WHERE Spring’s coy steps, in cold Canadia stray,
And joyless seasons hold unequal sway;
He saw the pine its daring mantle rear,
Break the rude blast, and mock the inclement year,
Secure the limits of the angry skies,        5
And bid all southern vegetation rise.
Wild o’er the vast impenetrable round,
The untrod bowers of shadowy nature frown’d;
The neighboring cedar waved its honors wide,
The fir’s tall boughs, the oak’s resistless pride,        10
The branching beech, the aspin’s trembling shade,
Veil’d the dim heavens and brown’d the dusky glade.
Here in huge crowds those sturdy sons of earth,
In frosty regions, claim a nobler birth;
Where heavy trunks the sheltering dome requires,        15
And copious fuel feeds the wintry fires.
While warmer suns, that southern climes emblaze,
A cool deep umbrage o’er the woodland raise;
Floridia’s blooming shores around him spread,
And Georgian hills erect their shady head;        20
Beneath tall trees, in livelier verdure gay,
Long level walks a humble garb display;
The infant corn, unconscious of its worth,
Points the green spire and bends the foliage forth;
Sweeten’d on flowery banks, the passing air        25
Breathes all the untasted fragrance of the year;
Unbidden harvests o’er the regions rise,
And blooming life repays the genial skies.
Where circling shores around the gulf extend,
The bounteous groves with richer burdens bend;        30
Spontaneous fruits the uplifted palms unfold,
The beauteous orange waves a load of gold,
The untaught vine, the wildly-wanton cane
Bloom on the waste, and clothe the enarbor’d plain,
The rich pimento scents the neighboring skies,        35
And woolly clusters o’er the cotton rise.
Here, in one view, the same glad branches bring
The fruits of autumn and the flowers of spring;
No wintry blasts the unchanging year deform,
Nor beasts unshelter’d fear the pinching storm:        40
But vernal breezes o’er the blossoms rove,
And breathe the ripen’d juices through the grove.
Beneath the crystal wave’s inconstant light,
Pearls undistinguish’d sparkle on the sight;
From opening earth, in living lustre, shine        45
The various treasures of the blazing mine;
Hills, cleft before him, all their stores unfold,
The quick mercurius and the burning gold;
Gems of unnumber’d hues, in bright array,
Illume the changing rocks and shed the beams of day.        50
 
 
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