To the Housatonic at Stockbridge

Contented river! in thy dreamy realm —
The cloudy willow and the plumy elm:
They call thee English, thinking thus to mate
Their musing streams that, oft with pause sedate,
Linger through misty meadows for a glance
At haunted tower or turret of romance.
Beware their praise who rashly would deny
To our New World its true tranquillity.
Our " New World " ? Nay, say rather to our Old
(Let truth and freedom make us doubly bold);

Tell them: A thousand silent years before
Their sea-born isle — at every virgin shore
Dripping like Aphrodite's tresses — rose,
Here, 'neath her purple veil, deep slept Repose,
To be awakened but by wail of war.
About thy cradle under yonder hill,
Before thou knewest bridge, or dam, or mill,
Soft winds of starlight whispered heavenly lore,
Which, like our childhood's, all the workday toil
Cannot efface, nor long its beauty soil.
Thou hast grown human laboring with men
At wheel and spindle; sorrow thou dost ken;
Yet dost thou still the unshaken stars behold,
Calm to their calm returning, as of old.
Thus, like a gentle nature that grows strong
In meditation for the strife with wrong,
Thou show'st the peace that only tumult can;
Surely, serener river never ran.

Thou beautiful! From every dreamy hill
What eye but wanders with thee at thy will,
Imagining thy silver course unseen
Convoyed by two attendant streams of green
In bending lines, — like half-expected swerves
Of swaying music, or those perfect curves
We call the robin; making harmony
With many a new-found treasure of the eye:
With meadows, marging smoothly rounded hills
Where Nature teemingly the myth fulfils
Of many-breasted Plenty; with the blue,
That to the zenith fades through triple hue,
Pledge of the constant day; with clouds of white,
That haunt horizons with their blooms of light.
And when the east with rosy eve is glowing
Seem like full cheeks of zephyrs gently blowing.

Contented river! and yet over-shy
To mask thy beauty from the eager eye;
Hast thou a thought to hide from field and town?
In some deep current of the sunlit brown
Art thou disquieted — still uncontent
With praise from thy Homeric bard, who lent
The world the placidness thou gavest him?
Thee Bryant loved when life was at its brim;
And when the wine was falling, in thy wood
Of sturdy willows like a Druid stood.
Oh, for his touch on this o'er-throbbing time,
His hand upon the hectic brow of Rhyme,
Cooling its fevered passion to a pace
To lead, to stir, to reinspire the race!

Ah! there 's a restive ripple, and the swift
Red leaves — September's firstlings — faster drift;
Betwixt twin aisles of prayer they seem to pass
(One green, one greenly mirrored in thy glass).
Wouldst thou away, dear stream? Come, whisper near!
I also of much resting have a fear:
Let me to-morrow thy companion be
By fall and shallow to the adventurous sea!
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