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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
America: Vols. XXV–XXIX. 1876–79.

New England: Memphremagog, the Lake, Vt.

A Lay of Memphremagog

By Lavinia S. Goodwin (1833–1911)

NOT as when, in summer days,

Wove illusive sunset haze

Round the mountain, bald and grim;

Watching at the rocking rim

Of the cradled lake, whose isles

Are the toys at which it smiles,—

And when day, but half awake,

Saw the roe stoop to the lake,

And its silver waters sip,

With his image, lip to lip;

Listening close, with tremulous ear,

To ten thousand warblers clear,

Up the greenwood steep so far;

Which was dew-drop, which was star,

Glimmering near the gates ajar,—

What was bird-voice, what was psalm,

Stealing through the radiant balm,

Out the changeless, God-lit sphere,

Sense said not, nor eye nor ear.

Dash the canvas,—white for green;

Summer ’s gone,—a winter scene.

Owl’s Head wears its coil of snow,

Memphremagog hides below;

Crisp the air, with frost and sleet

Folding, in the mountain dim,

As his wings the seraphim,—

Twain his face and twain his feet.

Mirroring waves no more declare

Passing thought of sky and air.

Moon, or stars, or bird, or cloud,

Nor to winds confess aloud,

Conscience troubled, heart and head;

Ice-incrusted, deep snow-spread,

Nothing stirs a conscience dead.

On the fir-tree’s outstretched palms

Lie the bounteous angel alms;

League on league of untrod white,

Save the squirrel’s footmarks slight;

And the red fox’s deeper trail,

Where he roamed the moonlit vale;

Ay, and slant the frozen wave,

Past the smuggler’s island cave;

One great furrow, roughly ploughed,

By a preying wolf-pack loud,

Fierce and lean and devil-browed.

By their lair, ’neath Eagles’ Cliff,

Oft the covetous white man’s skiff

Chased and lost the birch canoe,

When some rock-gate let it through,

Bearing to the mountain’s bed.

Of his tribe the guardian red,

Over a mysterious mine,

Where the silver nuggets shine—

Hidden still; there are who say,

Guards his ghost the place, to-day.

Deep within the solitude

Of the winter-girded wood,

Where no foot of man comes near,

Is a herd of gentle deer.

Six brave stags, with each a mate,

In a city of whose gate

Spring, incoming, holds the key,—

City walled with porphyry.

Busy workers wrought betimes,

Hearing naught of Christmas chimes,

Heeding naught of glad New Year,

Daily, nightly, building here.

Noiseless workers,—trowel’s fray,

Chisel’s twang, nor mattock’s sway

Tempted Echo from her haunt;

Scaffold high, nor ladder gaunt,

Stayed them up, or aided down,

While was reared that forest town.

Silence, save when tone severe,

As of tyrant overseer,—

Was it but the hoarse wind’s call?

“Clouds and Cold and Snowflakes, all,

Idlers, haste,—build, build your wall!”