Home  »  Poems of Places An Anthology in 31 Volumes  »  John Smith’s Approach to Jamestown

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

Southern States: Jamestown, Va.

John Smith’s Approach to Jamestown

By James Barron Hope (1829–1887)


I PAUSE not now to speak of Raleigh’s dreams,

Though they might give a loftier bard fit themes:

I pause not now to tell of Ocracock,

Where Saxon spray broke on the red-brown rock;

Nor of my native river which glides down

Through scenes where rose a happy Indian town;

But, leaving these and Chesapeake’s broad bay,

Resume my story in the month of May,

Where England’s cross—St. George’s ensign—flowed

Where ne’er before emblazoned banner glowed;

Where English breasts throbbed fast as English eyes

Looked o’er the waters with a glad surprise,—

Looked gladly out upon the varied scene

Where stretched the woods in all their pomp of green;

Flinging great shadows, beautiful and vast

As e’er upon Arcadian lake were cast.

Turn where they would, in what direction rove,

They found some bay, or wild, romantic cove,

On which they coasted through those forests dim,

Wherein they heard the never-ceasing hymn

That swelled from all the tall, majestic pines,—

Fit choristers of Nature’s sylvan shrines.

For though no priest their solitudes had trod,

The trees were vocal in their praise of God.

And then, when, capes and jutting headlands past,

The sails were furled against each idle mast,

They saw the sunset in its pomp descend,

And sky and water gloriously contend

For gorgeousness of colors, red and gold,

And tints of amethyst together rolled,

Making a scene of splendor and of rest

As vanquished day lit camp-fires in the West.

And when the light grew faint on wave and strand,

New beauties woke in this enchanted land,

For through heaven’s lattice-work of crimson bars

Like angels looked the bright eternal stars,

And then, when gathered tints of purplish brown,

A golden sickle, reaping darkness down,

The new moon shone above the lofty trees,

Which made low music in the evening breeze,—

The breeze which floating blandly from the shore

The perfumed breath of flowering jasmine bore;

For smiling Spring had kissed its clustering vines,

And breathed her fragrance on the lofty pines.