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

New England: Housatonic, the River

Bennett’s Bridge

By Joseph H. Nichols

THOU beautiful, romantic dell!

Thy banks of hemlock highlands swell,

Like huge sea billows, o’er the isles

Round which the branching river smiles.

Look up! how sombre and how vast

The shadows those dark mountains cast,

Making noon twilight; or look down

The giddy depths, so steep and brown,

Where claret waters foam and play

A tinkling tune, then dance away.

Oft, with my oak-leaf basket green,

On summer holidays serene,

Along your hillsides have I strayed,

And on the ground, all scarlet made,

Picked in full stems, as low I kneeled,

Strawberries, rubies of the field,

Coming late home; or in the flood

Cooled the warm current of my blood,

While swam the house-dog after me,

With long red tongue lapt out in glee.

’T is glorious, here, at breaking day,

To watch the orient clouds of gray

Blush crimson, as the yellow sun

Walks up to take his purple throne,

And melts to snowy mists the dew

That kissed, all night, each blossom’s hue,

Till, like a tumbling ocean spread,

They hide low vale and tall cliff’s head,

And many a tree’s fantastic form

Looks like some tossed ship in a storm.

How still the scene! yet here war’s hum

Once echoed wildly from the drum,

When waved the lily flower’s gay bloom

O’er glittering troops with sword and plume,

Who, on the clover meadows round,

Their white tents pitched, while music’s sound,

From horn and cymbal, played some strain

That oft had charmed the banks of Seine,

And village girls came down to dance

At evening with the youths of France.

Fair was the hour, secluded dell!

When last I taught my listening shell

Sweet notes of thee. The bright moon shone,

As on the shore I mused alone,

And frosted rocks, and streams, and tree,

With rays that beamed like eyes on me.

A silver robe the mountain’s hung,

A silver song the waters sung,

And many a pine was heard to quiver

Along my own blue flowing river.