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

New England: Birch Stream, Me.

Birch Stream

By Anna Boynton Averill (1843–1915)

AT noon, within the dusty town,

Where the wild river rushes down,

And thunders hoarsely all day long,

I think of thee, my hermit stream,

Low singing in thy summer dream,

Thine idle, sweet, old, tranquil song.

Northward, Katahdin’s chasmed pile

Looms through thy low, long, leafy aisle;

Eastward, Olamon’s summit shines;

And I upon thy grassy shore,

The dreamful, happy child of yore,

Worship before mine olden shrines.

Again the sultry noontide hush

Is sweetly broken by the thrush,

Whose clear bell rings and dies away

Beside thy banks, in coverts deep,

Where nodding buds of orchis sleep

In dusk, and dream not it is day.

Again the wild cow-lily floats

Her golden-freighted, tented boats,

In thy cool coves of softened gloom,

O’ershadowed by the whispering reed,

And purple plumes of pickerel-weed,

And meadow-sweet in tangled bloom.

The startled minnows dart in flocks

Beneath thy glimmering amber rocks,

If but a zephyr stirs the brake;

The silent swallow swoops, a flash

Of light, and leaves, with dainty plash,

A ring of ripples in her wake.

Without, the land is hot and dim;

The level fields in languor swim,

Their stubble-grasses brown as dust;

And all along the upland lanes,

Where shadeless noon oppressive reigns,

Dead roses wear their crowns of rust.

Within, is neither blight nor death,

The fierce sun wooes with ardent breath,

But cannot win thy sylvan heart.

Only the child who loves thee long,

With faithful worship pure and strong,

Can know how dear and sweet thou art.

So loved I thee in days gone by,

So love I yet, though leagues may lie

Between us, and the years divide;—

A breath of coolness, dawn, and dew,—

A joy forever fresh and true,

Thy memory doth with me abide.