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

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

Lake Ontario

By John Neal (1793–1876)

(From Battle of Niagara, Canto II)

THE MOON goes lightly up her thronging way,

And shadowy things are brightening into day;

And cliff and shrub and bank and tree and stone

Now move upon the eye, and now are gone.

A dazzling tapestry is hung around,

A gorgeous carpeting bestrews the ground;

The willows glitter in the passing beam,

And shake their tangling lustres o’er the stream;

And all the full rich foliage of the shore

Seems with a quick enchantment frosted o’er,

And dances at the faintest breath of night,

And trembles like a plume of spangles in the light!

This dark cool wave is bluer than the deep,

Where sailors, children of the tempest, sleep;

And dropped with lights as pure, as still, as those

The wide-drawn hangings of the skies disclose,

Far lovelier than the dim and broken ray,

That Ocean’s flashing surges send astray.

This is the mirror of dim Solitude,

On which unholy things may ne’er intrude;

That frowns and ruffles when the clouds appear,

Refusing to reflect their shapes of fear.

Ontario’s deeps are spread to multiply

But sunshine, stars, the moon, and clear-blue sky.

No pirate barque was ever seen to ride,

With blood-red streamer, chasing o’er that tide;

Till late, no bugle o’er those waters sang

With aught but huntsman’s orisons, that rang

Their clear, exulting, bold, triumphant strain,

Till all the mountain echoes laughed again;

Till caverns, depths, and hills would all reply,

And heaven’s blue dome ring out the sprightly melody.