Home  »  Poems of Places An Anthology in 31 Volumes  »  Boston Common—Three Pictures

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

New England: Boston, Mass.

Boston Common—Three Pictures

By Oliver Wendell Holmes (1809–1894)

ALL overgrown with bush and fern,

And straggling clumps of tangled trees,

With trunks that lean and boughs that turn,

Bent eastward by the mastering breeze,—

With spongy bogs that drip and fill

A yellow pond with muddy rain,

Beneath the shaggy southern hill

Lies wet and low the Shawmut plain.

And hark! the trodden branches crack;

A crow flaps off with startled scream;

A straying woodchuck canters back;

A bittern rises from the stream;

Leaps from his lair a frightened deer;

An otter plunges in the pool;—

Here comes old Shawmut’s pioneer,

The parson on his brindled bull!

THE STREETS are thronged with trampling feet,

The northern hill is ridged with graves,

But night and morn the drum is beat

To frighten down the “rebel knaves.”

The stones of King Street still are red,

And yet the bloody red-coats come:

I hear their pacing sentry’s tread,

The click of steel, the tap of drum,

And over all the open green,

Where grazed of late the harmless kine,

The cannon’s deepening ruts are seen,

The war-horse stamps, the bayonets shine.

The clouds are dark with crimson rain

Above the murderous hirelings’ den,

And soon their whistling showers shall stain

The pipe-clayed belts of Gage’s men.

AROUND the green, in morning light,

The spired and palaced summits blaze,

And, sunlike, from her Beacon-height

The dome-crowned city spreads her rays;

They span the waves, they belt the plains,

They skirt the roads with bands of white,

Till with a flash of gilded panes

Yon farthest hillside bounds the sight.

Peace, Freedom, Wealth! no fairer view,

Though with the wild-bird’s restless wings

We sailed beneath the noontide’s blue

Or chased the moonlight’s endless rings!

Here, fitly raised by grateful hands

His holiest memory to recall,

The Hero’s, Patriot’s image stands;

He led our sires who won them all!