Verse > Anthologies > Samuel Kettell, ed. > Specimens of American Poetry
Samuel Kettell, ed.  Specimens of American Poetry.  1829.
The Falls of the Housatonick
By Joseph H. Nichols
WILD cataract of woods! how bright
  Thy sheet of liquid silver gleams,
Through the green cedars, on my sight,
  Like a tall angel’s spear in dreams.
And see the snowy wreath of spray,        5
  Meet for a spotless virgin’s shroud,
Curl up the clear blue vault away
  To form the future tempest-cloud.
Through mountain shores, with red and gold
  Leaves, at this autumn hour, array’d,        10
Winds the swift river, dark and bold,
  O’er rocks in many a white cascade.
Till sweeping past, ’mid froth and surge,
  The alder islets strown around,
To where the willows kiss thy verge,        15
  Thou dashest off at one wild bound!
Here, as we gaze—I and my friend,
  Two youths with roses on our cheeks,
’T is sweet, but awful, thus to bend
  Over the wonder, as it speaks        20
Like a young earthquake, and to feel
  A nameless grandeur swell the soul
With joy that makes the senses reel,
  Half-wishing in the flood to roll!
Yes, thou art fair, and fain would I,        25
  Were mine no love, no kindred true,
Alone here live, alone here die,
  Were I but worthy too for you,
For oh! were mortals half so fair
  And beautiful as their abodes,        30
Woman a cherub’s face would wear,
  And man—the majesty of gods.
Each morning sun a rainbow builds
  Of pink, across thy diamond foam,
That every tossing billow gilds        35
  With pearls, to deck its ocean home.
Too soon it fades, unseen by all,
  Save the rude woodman of the hill,
Or, when for water to the fall,
  Trips the glad damsel of the mill.        40
Methinks, at winter’s dazzling night,
  Thine were a lovelier scene than now,
For then the very air is white
  With the pure stars and purer snow.
And trees, like crystal chandeliers,        45
  In nature’s blue cathedral arch,
Light by the moon their gems of tears,
  Where, like a queen bride, thou dost march.
And, oft, with a peculiar awe,
  Thou com’st the moss-green rocks to lash:        50
When the soft vernal breezes thaw
  The long chain’d river, at one crash
Of thunder, it breaks up and roars,
  Till echoing caverns wake from sleep,
As at a mammoth’s voice,—and pours        55
  An ice-piled deluge down thy steep.
Fall of the forest! on a wild
  Romantic pilgrimage I come
To see thy face, for, from a child,
  My footsteps ever loved to roam        60
Places untrod—yet, why hast thou,
  In sylvan beauty, roll’d so long,
And not a poet’s tongue, ere now,
  Has told his lyre thy praise in song.

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