A FAR-WESTERN RIVER a Poem
A FAR-WESTERN RIVER
IT was a lovely stream, deep in the forest's heart,
A stream from human habitation far apart,
Like jewel by some careless hand dropt down,
In green oasis to the world unknown.
No homes of man, save here and there display'd
A mossy log-hut by the hunters made,
By rough frontiersmen rais'd, a robust race
That follow'd here the wild beasts of the chase.
Trappers and scouts, who had no heart to know
The beauties of the stream, its ebb and flow,
In vain for them the waves would murmur song,
In vain the wood-arcades the sound prolong.
O woods magnificent, how grand ye are,
Lifting your stately columns high in air,
O'ershadowing the stream with banners green,
Upholding your broad shields, an ample screen!
The water-fowl here come the gelid fount to drink,
Wild antelopes disport along the grassy brink,
Great buffaloes dash by, and song-birds of the wood
With madrigals salute the list'ning solitude.
In winter, when the brooks are voiceless all,
And scarce a tinkle hath the waterfall;
When crystal ice ensheathes thee with its mail,
Then lonely art thou—lifeless, cold, and pale.
Ah, all the summer silences and sound !
Delicious are they in this peace profound,
Where all calamities, despairs of life,
Have never vex'd your haunts with baleful strife.
Thy virgin waves have never heard the tread
Of angler loitering by thy sandy bed;
Have never seen the gay delusive fly
Dropt in the ripples where thy fishes lie.
Here through the ages they have sportful play'd
In calm lagoon, or 'neath the white cascade;
There spangled trout like Indian shafts have flash'd,
Thro' deeps transparent dusky bass have dash'd.
Soon white-topt wains of emigrants shall come,
Mill-wheels shall clank and factory-spindles hum,
Along thy shore the busy crowds shall pour,
And Nature's peaceful reign pervade no more.
Fashions and forms of civil life will reign,
Woodsmen and traders throng the lonely plain;
Loud, gainful life o'er all the realm prevail,
And Solitude depart from stream and vale!
McLellan, Isaac. Poems of the Rod and Gun. New York: Henry Thorpe, 1886.
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