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

Introductory to Western States


By Margaret Fuller D’Ossoli (1810–1850)

Lines Written in Illinois

FAMILIAR to the childish mind were tales

Of rock-girt isles amid a desert sea,

Where unexpected stretch the flowery vales

To soothe the shipwrecked sailor’s misery.

Fainting, he lay upon a sandy shore,

And fancied that all hope of life was o’er;

But let him patient climb the frowning wall,

Within, the orange glows beneath the palm-tree tall,

And all that Eden boasted waits his call.

Almost these tales seem realized to-day,

When the long dulness of the sultry way,

Where independent settlers’ careless cheer

Made us indeed feel we were strangers here,

Is cheered by sudden sight of this fair spot,

On which improvement yet has made no blot,

But Nature all astonished stands, to find

Her plan protected by the human mind.

Blest be the kindly genius of the scene:

The river, bending in unbroken grace;

The stately thickets, with their pathways green;

Fair lonely trees, each in its fittest place.

Those thickets haunted by the deer and fawn;

Those cloudlike flights of birds across the lawn;

The gentlest breezes here delight to blow,

And sun and shower and star are emulous to deck the show.

Wondering, as Crusoe, we survey the land;

Happier than Crusoe we, a friendly band:

Blest be the hand that reared this friendly home,

The heart and mind of him to whom we owe

Hours of pure peace such as few mortals know;

May he find such, should he be led to roam,—

Be tended by such ministering sprites,—

Enjoy such gayly childish days, such hopeful nights.

And yet, amid the goods to mortals given,

To give those goods again is most like Heaven.