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

Middle States: George (Horicon), the Lake, N. Y.


By Henry Morford (1823–1881)


IN the midst of the mountains all bosky and wooded,

Its bosom thick gemmed with the loveliest isles,

Its borders with vistas of Paradise studded,—

Looking up to the heaven sweet Horicon smiles.

Thick set are its haunts with old legend and story,

That, woven by genius, still cluster and blend;

But its beauty will cling, like a halo of glory,

When legend and record with ages shall end.


Far down in the waters the pebbles are gleaming,—

Far down in the clear waves that nothing can hide;

So, beauty of youth, comes the name you are dreaming,—

Too pure for concealment, too gentle for pride;

So smiles on your faces the sunshine of heaven,—

The blessing distilled in the gardens of air,—

A smile of contentment from Paradise given

That woman and lake have been fashioned so fair.

Pure Horicon! glassing the brows of the mountains,

As handmaid might bend to a conqueror’s will!—

Although nurtured and swelled by the commonest fountains,

Yet pure, and transparent, and beautiful still!

No wonder the men of the cross and the missal

Once named it “The Lake of the Sacrament” pure;

Or that far leagues away, from some holiest vessel,

Its drops on the forehead could comfort and cure.

On the fair silver lake drives the Indian no longer,

With the sweep of his paddle, the birchen canoe;

And the fortresses fall that made weakness the stronger,

And saved the white maid when the war-whistle blew.

But ’t is well that the old and the savage are fated,

And that danger rolls back from the Edens of earth.

Our boats glide as well, with all loveliness freighted,

And the war-whoop we lose in the sallies of mirth.

Pure Horicon! lake of the cloud and the shadow!

Soft shimmer your moonlight and dimple your rain!

And the hearts far away—if by sea side or meadow—

Still think of your blue with a lingering pain!

Among the far islands that glitter in heaven,—

On the dim, undiscovered, and beautiful shore,—

Some glimpse of a lovelier sea may be given

To the eyes of the perfect,—but never before!