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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807–1882). Complete Poetical Works. 1893.

Birds of Passage

Flight the Fourth. Songo River

  • Songo River is a winding stream which connects Lake Sebago with Long Lake in Cumberland County, Maine. Among the early literary plans of Mr. Longfellow was one for a prose tale, the scene of which was to be laid near Lake Sebago. This poem was written September 18, 1875, after a visit to the river in the summer then closing.

  • NOWHERE such a devious stream,

    Save in fancy or in dream,

    Winding slow through bush brake,

    Links together lake and lake.

    Walled with woods or sandy shelf,

    Ever doubling on itself

    Flows the stream, so still and slow

    That it hardly seems to flow.

    Never errant knight of old,

    Lost in woodland or on wold,

    Such a winding path pursued

    Through the sylvan solitude.

    Never school-boy, in his quest

    After hazel-nut or nest,

    Through the forest in and out

    Wandered loitering thus about.

    In the mirror of its tide

    Tangled thickets on each side

    Hang inverted, and between

    Floating cloud or sky serene.

    Swift or swallow on the wing

    Seems the only living thing,

    Or the loon, that laughs and flies

    Down to those reflected skies.

    Silent stream! thy Indian name

    Unfamiliar is to fame;

    For thou hidest here alone,

    Well content to be unknown.

    But thy tranquil waters teach

    Wisdom deep as human speech,

    Moving without haste or noise

    In unbroken equipoise.

    Though thou turnest no busy mill,

    And art ever calm and still,

    Even thy silence seems to say

    To the traveller on his way:—

    “Traveller, hurrying from the heat

    Of the city, stay thy feet!

    Rest awhile, nor longer waste

    Life with inconsiderate haste!

    “Be not like a stream that brawls

    Loud with shallow waterfalls,

    But in quiet self-control

    Link together soul and soul.”