Home  »  Poems of Places An Anthology in 31 Volumes  »  Menotomy Lake (Spy Pond)

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

New England: Arlington, Mass.

Menotomy Lake (Spy Pond)

By John Townsend Trowbridge (1827–1916)

THERE ’s nothing so sweet as a morning in May,

And few things so fair as the gleam of glad water;

Spring leaps from the brow of old Winter to-day,

Full-formed, like the fabled Olympian’s daughter.

A breath out of heaven came down in the night,

Dispelling the gloom of the sullen northeasters;

The air is all balm, and the lake is as bright

As some bird in brave plumage that ripples and glisters.

The enchantment is broken which bound her so long,

And Beauty, that slumbered, awakes and remembers;

Love bursts into being, joy breaks into song,

In a glory of blossoms life flames from its embers.

I row by steep woodlands, I rest on my oars

Under banks deep-embroidered with grass and young clover;

Far round, in and out, wind the beautiful shores,—

The lake in the midst, with the blue heavens over.

The world in its mirror hangs dreamily bright;

The patriarch clouds in curled raiment, that lazily

Lift their bare foreheads in dazzling white light,

In that deep under-sky glimmer softly and hazily.

Far over the trees, or in glimpses between,

Peer the steeples and half-hidden roofs of the village.

Here lie the broad slopes in their loveliest green;

There, crested with orchards or checkered with tillage.

There the pines, tall and black, in the blue morning air;

The warehouse of ice, a vast windowless castle;

The ash and the sycamore, shadeless and bare;

The elm-boughs in blossom, the willows in tassel.

In golden effulgence of leafage and blooms,

Far along, overleaning, the sunshiny willows

Advance like a surge from the grove’s deeper glooms,—

The first breaking swell of the summer’s green billows.

Scarce a tint upon hornbeam or sumach appears,

The arrowhead tarries, the lily still lingers;

But the cat-tails are piercing the wave with their spears,

And the fern is unfolding its infantile fingers.

Down through the dark evergreens slants the mild light:

I know every cove, every moist indentation,

Where mosses and violets ever invite

To some still unexperienced, fresh exploration.

The mud-turtle, sunning his shield on a log,

Slides off with a splash as my paddle approaches;

Beside the green island I silence the frog,

In warm, sunny shallows I startle the roaches.

I glide under branches where rank above rank

From the lake grow the trees, bending over its bosom;

Or lie in my boat on some flower-starred bank,

And drink in delight from each bird-song and blossom.

Above me the robins are building their nest;

The finches are here,—singing throats by the dozen;

The catbird, complaining, or mocking the rest;

The wing-spotted blackbird, sweet bobolink’s cousin.

With rapture I watch, as I loiter beneath,

The small silken tufts on the boughs of the beeches,

Each leaf-cluster parting its delicate sheath,

As it gropingly, yearningly opens and reaches;

Like soft-wingéd things coming forth from their shrouds.

The bees have forsaken the maples’ red flowers

And gone to the willows, whose luminous clouds

Drop incense and gold in impalpable showers.

The bee-peopled odorous boughs overhead,

With fragrance and murmur the senses delighting;

The lake-side, gold-laced with the pollen they shed

At the touch of a breeze or a small bird alighting;

The myriad tremulous pendants that stream

From the hair of the birches,—O group of slim graces,

That see in the water your silver limbs gleam,

And lean undismayed over infinite spaces!—

The bold dandelions embossing the grass;

On upland and terrace the fruit-gardens blooming;

The wavering, winged, happy creatures that pass,—

White butterflies flitting, and bumblebees booming;

The crowing of cocks and the bellow of kine;

Light, color, and all the delirious lyrical

Bursts of bird-voices; life filled with new wine,—

Every motion and change in this beautiful miracle,

Springtime and Maytime,—revive in my heart

All the springs of my youth, with their sweetness and splendor:

O years, that so softly take wing and depart!

O perfume! O memories pensive and tender!