He spoke; and silent tow'rd the northern sky

He spoke; and silent tow'rd the northern sky
Wide o'er the hills the Hero cast his eye,
Saw the long floods thro devious channels pour
And wind their currents to the opening shore;
Interior seas and lonely lakes display
Their glittering glories to the beams of day.
Thy capes, Virginia, towering from the tide,
Raise their blue banks and slope thy barriers wide,
To future sails unfold an inland way
And guard secure thy multifluvian bay;
That drains uncounted realms, and here unites
The liquid mass from Alleganian heights.
York leads his wave, imbank'd in flowery pride,
And nobler James falls winding by his side;
Back to the hills, thro many a silent vale,
Wild Rappahanoc seems to lure the sail,
Patapsco's bosom courts the hand of toil,
Dull Susquehanna laves a length of soil;
But mightier far, in sealike azure spread,
Potomac sweeps his earth disparting bed.
Long dwelt his eye where these commingling pour'd,
Their waves unkeel'd, their havens unexplored;
Where frowning forests stretch the dusky wing,
And deadly damps forbid the flowers to spring;
No seasons clothe the field with cultured grain,
No buoyant ship attempts the chartless main;
Then, with impatient voice, My Seer, he cried,
When shall my children cross the lonely tide?
Here, here my sons, the hand of culture bring,
Here teach the lawn to smile, the grove to sing;
Ye laboring floods, no longer vainly glide,
Ye harvests load them, and ye forests ride;
Bear the deep burden from the joyous swain,
And tell the world where peace and plenty reign.
Hesper to this return'd him no reply,
But raised new visions to his roving eye.
He saw broad Delaware the shores divide,
He saw majestic Hudson pour his tide;
Thy stream, my Hartford, thro its misty robe,
Play'd in the sunbeams, belting far the globe;
No watery glades thro richer vallies shine,
Nor drinks the sea a lovelier wave than thine.
Mystick and Charles refresh their seaward isles,
And gay Piscateway pays his passing smiles;
Swift Kenebec, high bursting from his lakes,
Shoots down the hillsides through the clouds he makes;
And hoarse resounding, gulfing wide the shore,
Dread Laurence labors with tremendous roar;
Laurence, great son of Ocean! lorn he lies
And braves the blasts of hyperborean skies.
Where hoary winter holds his howling reign
And April flings her timid showers in vain,
Groans the choked Flood, in frozen fetters bound,
And isles of ice his angry front surround.
As old Enceladus, in durance vile,
Spreads his huge length beneath Sicilia's isle,
Feels mountains, crusht by mountains, on him prest,
Close not his veins nor still his laboring breast;
His limbs convulse, his heart rebellious rolls,
Earth shakes responsive to her utmost poles,
While rumbling, bursting, boils his ceaseless ire,
Flames to mid heaven and sets the skies on fire.
So the contristed Laurence lays him low,
And hills of sleet and continents of snow
Rise on his crystal breast; his heaving sides
Crash with the weight, and pour their gushing tides.
Asouth, whence all his hundred branches bend,
Relenting airs with boreal blasts contend;
Far in his vast extremes he swells and thaws,
And seas foam wide between his ice-bound jaws.
Indignant Frost, to hold his captive, plies
His hosted fiends that vex the polar skies,
Unlocks his magazines of nitric stores,
Azotic charms and muriatic powers;
Hail, with its glassy globes, and brume congeal'd,
Rime's fleecy flakes, and storm that heaps the field
Strike thro the sullen Stream with numbing force,
Obstruct his sluices and impede his course.
In vain he strives; his might interior fails;
Nor spring's approach, nor earth's whole heat avails;
He calls his hoary sire; old Ocean roars
Responsive echo thro the Shetland shores.
He comes, the Father! from his bleak domains,
To break with liquid arms the sounding chains;
Clothed in white majesty, he leads from far
His tides high foaming to the wintry war.
Billows on billows lift the maddening brine,
And seas and clouds in battling conflict join,
O'erturn the vast gulf glade with rending sweep,
And crash the crust that bridged the boiling deep;
Till forced aloft, bright bounding thro the air,
Moves the blear ice and sheds a dazzling glare;
The torn foundations on the surface ride,
And wrecks of winter load the downward tide.
The loosen'd ice-isles o'er the main advance,
Toss on the surge and thro the concave dance;
Whirl'd high, conjoin'd, in crystal mountains driven,
Alp over Alp, they build a midway heaven;
Whose million mirrors mock the solar ray
And give condensed the tenfold glare of day.
As tow'rd the south the mass enormous glides
And brineless rivers furrow down its sides,
The thirsty sailor steals a glad supply,
And sultry tradewinds quaff the boreal sky.
But oft insidious death, with mist o'erstrown,
Rides the dark ocean on this icy throne;
When ships thro vernal seas with light airs steer
Their midnight march and deem no danger near.
The steerman gaily helms his course along
And laughs and listens to the watchman's song,
Who walks the deck, enjoys the murky fog,
Sure of his chart, his magnet and his log;
Their shipmates dreaming, while their slumbers last,
Of joys to come, of toils and dangers past.
Sudden a chilling blast comes roaring thro
The trembling shrouds and startles all the crew;
They spring to quarters and perceive too late
The mount of death, the giant strides of fate.
The fullsail'd ship, with instantaneous shock
Dasht into fragments by the floating rock,
Plunges beneath its basement thro the wave,
And crew and cargo glut the watery grave.
Say, Palfrey, brave good man, was this thy doom?
Dwells here the secret of thy midsea tomb?
But, Susan, why that tear? my lovely friend,
Regret may last, but grief should have an end.
An infant then, thy memory scarce can trace
The lines, tho sacred, of thy father's face;
A generous spouse has well replaced the sire;
New duties hence new sentiments require.
Now where the lakes, those midland oceans, lie,
Columbus turn'd his heaven-illumined eye.
Ontario's banks, unable to retain
The five great Caspians from the distant main,
Burst with the ponderous mass, and forceful whirl'd
His Laurence forth, to balance thus the world.
Above, bold Erie's wave sublimely stood,
Look'd o'er the cliff and heaved his headlong flood;
Where dread Niagara bluffs high his brow
And frowns defiance to the world below.
White clouds of mist expanding o'er him play,
That tinge their skirts in all the beams of day;
Pleased Iris wantons in perpetual pride
And bends her rainbows o'er the dashing tide.
Far glimmering in the north, bleak Huron runs,
Clear Michigan reflects a thousand suns,
And bason'd high, on earth's broad bosom gay,
The bright Superior silvers down the day.
Blue mounds beyond them far in ether fade,
Deep groves between them cast a solemn shade,
Slow moves their settling mist in lurid streams
And dusky radiance streaks the solar beams.
Fixt on the view the great discoverer stood
And thus addrest the messenger of good:
But why these seats, that seem reserved to grace
The social toils of some illustrious race?
Why spread so wide and form'd so fair in vain?
And why so distant rolls the bounteous main?
These happy regions must forever rest
Of man unseen, by native beasts possest;
And the best heritage, my sons could boast,
Illude their search in far dim deserts lost.
For see, no ship can point her pendants here,
No stream conducts nor ocean wanders near;
Frost, crags and cataracts their north invest,
And the tired sun scarce finds their bounds awest.
To whom the Seraph: Here indeed retires
The happiest land that feels my fostering fires;
Here too shall numerous nations found their seat,
And peace and freedom bless the kind retreat.
Led by this arm thy sons shall hither come,
And streams obedient yield the heroes room,
Spread a broad passage to their well known main,
Nor sluice their lakes nor form their soils in vain.
Here my bold Missisippi bends his way,
Scorns the dim bounds of yon bleak boreal day
And calls from western heavens, to feed his stream,
The rains and floods that Asian seas might claim.
Strong in his march and charged with all the fates
Of regions pregnant with a hundred states,
He holds in balance, ranged on either hand,
Two distant oceans and their sundering land,
Commands and drains the interior tracts that lie
Outmeasuring Europe's total breadth of sky.
High in the north his parent fountains wed,
And oozing urns adorn his infant head;
In vain proud Frost his nursing lakes would close
And choke his channel with perennial snows;
From all their slopes he curves his countless rills,
Sweeps their long marshes, saps their settling hills;
Then stretching, straitening south, he gaily gleams,
Swells thro the climes and swallows all their streams;
From zone to zone, o'er earth's broad surface curl'd,
He cleaves his course, he furrows half the world,
Now roaring wild thro bursting mountains driven,
Now calm reflecting all the host of heaven;
Where Cynthia pausing, her own face admires,
And suns and stars repeat their dancing fires.
Wide o'er his meadowy lawns he spreads and feeds
His realms of canes, his waving world of reeds;
Where mammoths grazed the renovating groves,
Slaked their huge thirst and chill'd their fruitless loves;
Where elks, rejoicing o'er the extinguisht race,
By myriads rise to fill the vacant space.
Earth's widest gulf expands to meet his wave,
Vast isles of ocean in his current lave;
Glad Thetis greets him from his finisht course
And bathes her Nereids in his freshening source.
To his broad bed their tributary stores
Wisconsin here, there lonely Peter pours;
Croix, from the northeast wilds, his channel fills,
Ohio, gather'd from his myriad hills,
Yazoo and Black, surcharged by Georgian springs,
Rich Illinois his copious treasure brings;
Arkansa, measuring back the sun's long course,
Moine, Francis, Rouge augment the father's force.
But chief of all his family of floods
Missouri marches thro his world of woods;
He scorns to mingle with the filial train,
Takes every course to reach alone the main;
Orient awhile his bending sweep he tries,
Now drains the southern, now the northern skies,
Searches and sunders far the globe's vast frame,
Reluctant joins the sire and takes at last his name.
There lies the path thy future sons shall trace,
Plant here their arts and rear their vigorous race:
A race predestined, in these choice abodes,
To teach mankind to tame their fluvial floods,
Retain from ocean, as their work requires,
These great auxiliars, raised by solar fires,
Force them to form ten thousand roads and girth
With liquid belts each verdant mound of earth,
To aid the colon's as the carrier's toil,
To drive the coulter and to fat the soil,
Learn all mechanic arts and oft regain
Their native hills in vapor and in rain.
So taught the Saint. The regions nearer drew
And raised resplendent to their Hero's view
Rich nature's triple reign; for here elate
She stored the noblest treasures of her state,
Adorn'd exuberant this her last domain,
As yet unalter'd by her mimic man,
Sow'd liveliest gems and plants of proudest grace
And strung with strongest nerves her animated race.
Retiring far round Hudson's frozen bay,
Earth's lessening circles shrink beyond the day;
Snows ever rising with the toils of time
Choke the chill shrubs that brave the dismal clime;
The beasts all whitening roam the lifeless plain,
And caves unfrequent scoop the couch for man.
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 brumal year,
Shag the green zone that bounds the boreal skies
And bid all southern vegetation rise.
Wild o'er the vast impenetrable round
The untrod bowers of shadowy nature frown'd;
Millennial cedars wave their honors wide,
The fir's tall boughs, the oak's umbrageous pride,
The branching beach, the aspin's trembling shade
Veil the dim heaven and brown the dusky glade.
For in dense crowds these sturdy sons of earth,
In frosty regions, claim a stronger birth;
Where heavy beams the sheltering dome requires
And copious trunks to feed its wintry fires.
But warmer suns, that southern zones emblaze,
A cool thin umbrage o'er their woodland raise;
Floridia's shores their blooms around him spread,
And Georgian hills erect their shady head;
Whose flowery shrubs regale the passing air
With all the untasted fragrance of the year.
Beneath tall trees, dispersed in loose array,
The rice-grown lawns their humble garb display;
The infant maiz, unconscious of its worth,
Points the green spire and bends the foliage forth;
In various forms unbidden harvests rise,
And blooming life repays the genial skies.
Where Mexic hills the breezy gulf defend,
Spontaneous groves with richer burdens bend.
Anana's stalk its shaggy honors yields,
Acacia's flowers perfume a thousand fields,
Their cluster'd dates the mast-like palms unfold,
The spreading orange waves a load of gold,
Connubial vines o'ertop the larch they climb,
The long-lived olive mocks the moth of time,
Pomona's pride, that old Grenada claims,
Here smiles and reddens in diviner flames;
Pimento, citron scent the sky serene,
White woolly clusters fringe the cotton's green,
The sturdy fig, the frail deciduous cane
And foodful cocoa fan the sultry plain.
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;
But vernal breezes o'er the blossoms rove
And breathe the ripen'd juices thro the grove.
Beneath the crystal wave's inconstant light,
Pearls burst their shells to greet the Hero's sight;
From opening earth in living lustre shine
The various treasures of the blazing mine;
Hills, cleft before him, all their stores unfold,
The pale platina and the burning gold;
Silver whole mounds, and gems of dazzling ray
Illume the rocks and shed the beams of day.
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