Verse > Anthologies > Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. > Poems of Places > America
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed.  Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
America: Vols. XXV–XXIX.  1876–79.
Middle States: Norman’s Kill (Tawasentha), N. Y.
The Forest Cemetery
Charles Fenno Hoffman (1806–1884)

WILD Tawasentha! in thy brook-laced glen
  The doe no longer lists her lost fawn’s bleating,
As panting there, escaped from hunter’s ken,
  She hears the chase o’er distant hills retreating;
No more, uprising from the fern around her,        5
  The Indian archer, from his “still-hunt” lair,
Wings the death-shaft which hath that moment found her
  When Fate seemed foiled upon her footsteps there.
Wild Tawasentha! on thy cone-strewed sod,
  O’er which yon pine his giant arm is bending,        10
No more the Mohawk marks its dark crown nod
  Against the sun’s broad disk toward night descending,
Then crouching down beside the brands that redden
  The columned trunks which rear thy leafy dome,
Forgets his toils in hunter’s slumbers leaden,        15
  Or visions of the red man’s spirit home:
But where his calumet by that lone fire,
  At night beneath these cloistered boughs was lighted,
The Christian orphan will in prayer aspire,
  The Christian parent mourn his proud hope blighted;        20
And in thy shade the mother’s heart will listen
  The spirit-cry of babe she clasps no more,
And where thy rills through hemlock-branches glisten,
  There many a maid her lover will deplore.
Here children linked in love and sport together,        25
  Who check their mirth as creaks the slow hearse by,
Will totter lonely in life’s autumn weather,
  To ponder where life’s spring-time blossoms lie;
And where the virgin soil was never dinted
  By the rude ploughshare since creation’s birth,        30
Year after year fresh furrows will be printed
  Upon the sad cheek of the grieving Earth.
Yon sun, returning in unwearied stages,
  Will gild the cenotaph’s ascending spire,
O’er names on history’s yet unwritten pages        35
  That unborn crowds will, worshipping, admire;
Names that shall brighten through my country’s story
  Like meteor hues that fire her autumn woods,
Encircling high her onward course of glory
  Like the bright bow which spans her mountain-floods.        40
Here where the flowers have bloomed and died for ages,—
  Bloomed all unseen and perished all unsung,—
On youth’s green grave, traced out beside the sage’s,
  Will garlands now by votive hearts be flung;
And sculptured marble and funereal urn,        45
  O’er which gray birches to the night air wave,
Will whiten through thy glades at every turn,
  And woo the moonbeam to some poet’s grave!
Thus back to Nature, faithful, do we come,
  When Art hath taught us all her best beguiling,        50
Thus blend their ministry around the tomb
  Where, pointing upward, still sits Nature smiling!
And never, Nature’s hallowed spots adorning,
  Hath Art, with her a sombre garden dressed,
Wild Tawasentha! in this vale of mourning        55
  With more to consecrate their children’s rest.
And still that stream will hold its winsome way,
  Sparkling as now upon the frosty air,
When all in turn shall troop in pale array
  To that dim land for which so few prepare.        60
Still will yon oak, which now a sapling waves,
  Each year renewed, with hardy vigor grow,
Expanding still to shade the nameless graves
  Of nameless men that haply sleep below.
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