Home  »  Poems of Places An Anthology in 31 Volumes  »  Church’s “Heart of the Andes”

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
Americas: Vol. XXX. 1876–79.

South America: Andes, the Mountains

Church’s “Heart of the Andes”

By Thomas Buchanan Read (1822–1872)

TRAVERSE the oceans, seek for unknown strands;

With great explorers ride through marvellous lands;

Walk with the poet where his kingdom lies,—

A realm of light beneath enchanted skies;

Between bright islands sail the spicy seas,

Beside the mighty-hearted Genoese;

Conquer with Cortes the barbaric states,

And pass through El Dorado’s golden gates;

Shout with the great Balboa and his crew,

What time a new sea sparkles into view;

With Ponce de Leon seek the fabled stream

Through flowery valleys brighter than his dream;

But never any sight of new-found land

Shall equal this, where we entrancèd stand,

With dewy eyes and overflowing heart,

Gazing from the exalted hill of Art!

This is not sorrowing Italy, nor these

The storied windings of the Pyrenees,

Nor are yon high and trackless realms of snow

The over-travelled Alps, the guide-man’s show!

But these, in depth of equatorial green,

Are the fresh Cordilleras, where between

Wander bewildering rivers, dancing down

Their rocky terraces of golden brown,

Clapping their watery hands. About the falls

The trees are wreathed like happy bacchanals.

Here blooms a world that fears nor cold nor drouth,

The lavish luxury of the teeming South,

The carnival of summer, far and near,

In lands where summer lords it all the year;

And over all, his Andean front aglow,

Great Chimborazo sits, his throne of snow!