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

Introductory to Southern States


By Paul Hamilton Hayne (1830–1886)


THE MORN is softly beautiful and still,

Its light fair clouds in pencilled gold and gray

Pause motionless above the pine-grown hill,

Where the pines, tranced as by a wizard’s will,

Uprise, as mute and motionless as they!

Yea! mute and moveless; not one flickering spray

Flashed into sunlight, nor a gaunt bough stirred;

Yet, if wooed hence beneath those pines to stray,

We catch a faint, thin murmur far away,

A bodiless voice, by grosser ears unheard.

What voice is this? what low and solemn tone,

Which, though all wings of all the winds seem furled,

Nor even the zephyr’s fairy flute is blown,

Makes thus forever its mysterious moan

From out the whispering pine-tops’ shadowy world?

Ah! can it be the antique tales are true?

Doth some lone Dryad haunt the breezeless air,

Fronting yon bright illimitable blue,

And wildly breathing all her wild soul through

That strange, unearthly music of despair?

Or can it be that ages since, storm-tossed,

And driven far inland from the roaring lea,

Some baffled ocean-spirit, worn and lost,

Here, through dry summer’s dearth and winter’s frost,

Yearns for the sharp, sweet kisses of the sea?

Whate’er the spell, I hearken and am dumb,

Dream-touched, and musing in the tranquil morn;

All woodland sounds,—the pheasant’s gusty drum,

The mock-bird’s fugue, the droning insect’s hum,—

Scarce heard for that strange, sorrowful voice forlorn!

Beneath the drowséd sense, from deep to deep

Of spiritual life its mournful minor flows,

Stream-like, with pensive tide, whose currents keep

Low-murmuring ’twixt the bounds of grief and sleep,

Yet looked for aye from sleep’s divine repose.


TALL, sombre, grim, against the morning sky

They rise, scarce touched by melancholy airs

Which stir the fadeless foliage dreamfully,

As if from realms of mystical despairs.

Tall, sombre, grim, they stand with dusky gleams

Brightening to gold within the woodland’s core,

Beneath the gracious noontide’s tranquil beams,

But the weird winds of morning sigh no more.

A stillness, strange, divine, ineffable,

Broods round and o’er them in the wind’s surcease,

And on each tinted copse and shimmering dell

Rests the mute rapture of deep-hearted peace.

Last, sunset comes,—the solemn joy and might

Borne from the west when cloudless day declines,—

Low, flute-like breezes sweep the waves of light,

And lifting dark green tresses of the pines,

Till every lock is luminous,—gently float,

Fraught with hale odors up the heavens afar

To faint when Twilight on her virginal throat

Wears for a gem the tremulous vesper star.


O GRACIOUS breath of sunrise! divine air!

That brood’st serenely o’er the purpling hills;

O blissful valleys! nestling, cool and fair,

In the fond arms of yonder murmurous rills,

Breathing their grateful measures to the sun;

O dew-besprinkled paths, that circling run

Through sylvan shades and solemn silences,

Once more ye bring my fevered spirit peace!

The fitful breezes, fraught with forest balm,

Faint, in rare wafts of perfume, on my brow;

The woven lights and shadows, rife with calm,

Creep slantwise ’twixt the foliage, bough on bough

Uplifted heavenward, like a verdant cloud

Whose rain is music, soft as love, or loud

With jubilant hope,—for there, entranced, apart,

The mock-bird sings, close, close to Nature’s heart.

Shy forms about the greenery, out and in,

Flit ’neath the broadening glories of the morn;

The squirrel—that quaint sylvan harlequin—

Mounts the tall trunks; while swift as lightning, born

Of summer mists, from tangled vine and tree

Dart the dove’s pinions, pulsing vividly

Down the dense glades, till glimmering far and gray

The dusky vision softly melts away!

In transient, pleased bewilderment, I mark

The last dim shimmer of those lessening wings,

When from lone copse and shadowy covert, hark!

What mellow tongue through all the woodland rings!

The deer-hound’s voice, sweet as the golden bell’s,

Prolonged by flying echoes round the dells,

And up the loftiest summits wildly borne,

Blent with the blast of some keen huntsman’s horn.

And now the checkered vale is left behind;

I climb the slope, and reach the hill-top bright;

Here, in bold freedom, swells a sovereign wind,

Whose gusty prowess sweeps the pine-clad height;

While the pines,—dreamy Titans roused from sleep,—

Answer with mighty voices, deep on deep

Of wakened foliage surging like a sea;

And o’er them smiles Heaven’s calm infinity!