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

New England: Northampton, Mass.

Holyoke Valley

By Edmund Clarence Stedman (1833–1908)

HOW many years have made their flights,

Northampton, over thee and me,

Since last I scaled those purple heights

That guard the pathway to the sea;

Or climbed, as now, the topmost crown

Of western ridges, whence again

I see, for miles beyond the town,

That sunlit stream divide the plain?

There still the giant warders stand

And watch the current’s downward flow,

And northward still, with threatening hand,

The river bends his ancient bow.

I see the hazy lowlands meet

The sky, and count each shining spire,

From those which sparkle at my feet

To distant steeples tipt with fire.

For still, old town, thou art the same:

The redbreasts sing their choral tune,

Within thy mantling elms aflame,

As in that other, dearer June,

When here my footsteps entered first,

And summer perfect beauty wore,

And all thy charms upon me burst,

While Life’s whole journey lay before.

Here every fragrant walk remains,

Where happy maidens come and go,

And students saunter in the lanes

And hum the songs I used to know.

I gaze, yet find myself alone,

And walk with solitary feet:

How strange these wonted ways have grown!

Where are the friends I used to meet?

In yonder shaded Academe

The rippling metres flow to-day,

But other boys at sunset dream

Of love, and laurels far away;

And ah! from yonder trellised home,

Less sweet the faces are that peer

Than those of old, and voices come

Less musically to my ear.

Sigh not, ye breezy elms, but give

The murmur of my sweetheart’s vows,

When Life was something worth to live,

And Love was young beneath your boughs!

Fade beauty, smiling everywhere,

That can from year to year outlast

Those charms a thousand times more fair,

And, oh, our joys so quickly past!

Or smile to gladden fresher hearts

Henceforth: but they shall yet be led,

Revisiting these ancient parts,

Like me to mourn their glory fled.