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

Western States: Superior, the Lake

Lake Superior

By Samuel Griswold Goodrich (1793–1860)

FATHER of Lakes! thy waters bend

Beyond the eagle’s utmost view,

When, throned in heaven, he sees thee send

Back to the sky its world of blue.

Boundless and deep, the forests weave

Their twilight shade thy borders o’er,

And threatening cliffs, like giants, heave

Their rugged forms along thy shore.

Pale Silence, mid thy hollow caves,

With listening ear, in sadness broods;

Or startled Echo, o’er thy waves,

Sends the hoarse wolf-notes of thy woods.

Nor can the light canoes, that glide

Across thy breast like things of air,

Chase from thy lone and level tide

The spell of stillness reigning there.

Yet round this waste of wood and wave,

Unheard, unseen, a spirit lives,

That, breathing o’er each rock and cave,

To all a wild, strange aspect gives.

The thunder-riven oak, that flings

Its grisly arms athwart the sky,

A sudden, startling image brings

To the lone traveller’s kindled eye.

The gnarled and braided boughs, that show

Their dim forms in the forest shade,

Like wrestling serpents seem, and throw

Fantastic horrors through the glade.

The very echoes round this shore

Have caught a strange and gibbering tone;

For they have told the war-whoop o’er,

Till the wild chorus is their own.

Wave of the wilderness, adieu!

Adieu, ye rocks, ye wilds and woods!

Roll on, thou element of blue,

And fill these awful solitudes!

Thou hast no tale to tell of man,—

God is thy theme. Ye sounding caves,

Whisper of Him, whose mighty plan

Deems as a bubble all your waves!