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

Southern States: Potomac, the River, Va.

A Potomac Picture

By Elizabeth Akers Allen (1832–1911)

A LITTLE shallop floating slow along

The fair Potomac’s tide,

The oarsman pausing for a simple song,

Sung softly at his side;—

A quaint, old-fashioned love-song, such as stirs

All tender souls, and thrills

To sudden youth the hearts of grandmothers,

Among New England’s hills.

Great boughs of laurel garlanding the boat,

Won from the bloomy store

Of forests, lying purple and remote

Along the eastern shore.

Far off, the city and the growing dome

Of the fair Capitol,—

White and ethereal as the feathery foam

Fringing the oar-blade’s fall.

A fort looks down in silence from the hill,

Holding its fiery breath,

As loath to mar the peace so sweet and still

By any thought of death.

The blossomed fruit-trees drape the frowning walls,

Disputing all their gloom,

And on the pyramids of cannon-balls

Drops the white chestnut-bloom.

The mounted guns, all threatening and grim,

Speak not their thunderous words,—

And in and out among their muzzles skim,

Unscared, the meadow birds.

In the horizon waits one patient star,

A sphere of silver white,

While the full moon, above the hill-tops far,

Slow reddens into sight.