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

Middle States: Erie, the Lake, N. Y.

Lake Erie

By Ephraim Peabody (1807–1856)

THESE lovely shores! how lone and still,

A hundred years ago,

The unbroken forest stood above,

The waters dashed below,—

The waters of a lonely sea,

Where never sail was furled,

Embosomed in a wilderness,

Which was itself a world.

A hundred years! go back, and lo!

Where, closing in the view,

Juts out the shore, with rapid oar

Darts round a frail canoe,—

’T is a white voyager, and see,

His prow is westward set

O’er the calm wave: Hail to thy bold,

World-seeking barque, Marquette!

The lonely bird, that picks his food

Where rise the waves and sink,

At their strange coming, with shrill scream,

Starts from the sandy brink;

The fishhawk, hanging in mid sky,

Floats o’er on level wing,

And the savage from his covert looks,

With arrow on the string.

A hundred years are past and gone,

And all the rocky coast

Is turreted with shining towns,

An empire’s noble boast;

And the old wilderness is changed

To cultured vale and hill;

And the circuit of its mountains

An empire’s numbers fill!