Verse > Anthologies > Samuel Kettell, ed. > Specimens of American Poetry
Samuel Kettell, ed.  Specimens of American Poetry.  1829.
The Waterfall
By Henry Pickering (1781–1838)
IMPETUOUS Torrent! Nature piled
Thy rocks amid the sylvan wild;
With flower and shrub their crags she graced,
And through them thy dark pathway traced;
Then bade thee with resistless force        5
Pursue thy mad, tumultuous course,
Plunging from slippery steep to steep
Till lost in the profounder deep,—
While ’mid the rush of waters round,
Eternal thunders shake the ground!        10
Impetuous Torrent! Time, perhaps,
For centuries hath mark’d thy lapse;
Yet has that ruthless spoiler fear’d
To mar the work which nature rear’d.
Still in rude grandeur tower thy rocks,        15
Still all restraint thy current mocks,
In verdant pride still wave thy trees,
Sway’d ever by the varying breeze;
And the dark cliffs, where wild flowers cling,
And where the bee flies murmuring,        20
In matchless beauty robed still,
Aye sets at nought the painter’s skill.
And here upon thy margent green,
The Indian hunter once was seen,
Gazing on thee in thoughtful mood,        25
Or bounding swift, as he pursued
Panther or deer across the glade,
Nor reck’d the coil thy waters made.
Child of the Forest! thou art fled,
Thy joys, thy pastimes, all are sped;        30
The antler’d herd are far away,
The panther is no more thy prey,
Nor more the timorous Echo wakes,
Startled as when thy war-whoop breaks:
And yet in Fancy’s view still near,        35
Thou brightly art depicted here.
The rock that spurns the rush of waves,
Is thy stern soul, that danger braves;
Amid the flood’s incessant roar
Thy dreaded voice I hear once more;        40
And as I mark its maddening strife,
I think o’er all thy stormy life:
While through the spray that falls in showers
Upon the trees, the shrubs, the flowers,
That wild, bright heaven, so dear to thee,        45
In yon ethereal brede I see.
Impetuous Torrent! other times
And other men from distant climes,
Have now arrived; and thou despoil’d
Of all thy charms, thy proud waves soil’d        50
By busy art, shalt be a theme
Fit only for a poet’s dream.
Yet should the forest shade no more
The banks o’er which it waved before,
And all thy lovelier features too        55
Vanish for ages from the view,—
Still through the mournful waste shalt thou
Pursue thy rapturous course as now:
And when the race that here bear sway
Are in oblivion swept away,        60
Thou shalt resume thy pristine reign—
And, deck’d in beauty, once again,
Shalt the brown hunter’s heart rejoice,
And wake the forest with thy voice.

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