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

New England: Monadnock, the Mountain, N. H.


By Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803–1882)


THOUSAND minstrels woke within me,

“Our music’s in the hills”:—

Gayest pictures rose to win me,

Leopard-colored rills.

“Up! If thou knew’st who calls

To twilight parks of beech and pine,

High over the river intervals,

Above the ploughman’s highest line,

Over the owner’s farthest walls!

Up! where the airy citadel

O’erlooks the surging landscape’s swell!

Let not unto the stones the Day

Her lily and rose, her sea and land display;

Read the celestial sign!

Lo! the south answers to the north;

Bookworm, break this sloth urbane;

A greater spirit bids thee forth

Than the gay dreams which thee detain.

Mark how the climbing Oreads

Beckon thee to their arcades!

Youth, for a moment free as they,

Teach thy feet to feel the ground,

Ere yet arrives the wintry day

When Time thy feet has bound.

Take the bounty of thy birth,

Taste the lordship of the earth.”

I heard, and I obeyed,—

Assured that he who made the claim,

Well known, but loving not a name,

Was not to be gainsaid.

Ere yet the summoning voice was still,

I turned to Cheshire’s haughty hill.

From the fixed cone the cloud-rack flowed

Like ample banner flung abroad

To all the dwellers in the plains

Round about, a hundred miles,

With salutation to the sea, and to the bordering isles.

In his own loom’s garment dressed,

By his proper bounty blessed,

Fast abides this constant giver,

Pouring many a cheerful river;

To far eyes, an aerial isle

Unploughed, which finer spirits pile,

Which morn and crimson evening paint

For bard, for lover, and for saint;

The people’s pride, the country’s core,

Inspirer, prophet evermore;

Pillar which God aloft had set

So that men might it not forget;

It should be their life’s ornament,

And mix itself with each event;

Gauge and calendar and dial,

Weatherglass and chemic phial,

Garden of berries, perch of birds,

Pasture of pool-haunting herds.


On the summit as I stood,

O’er the floor of plain and flood

Seemed to me, the towering hill

Was not altogether still,

But a quiet sense conveyed;

If I err not, thus it said:—

“Many feet in summer seek,

Oft, my far-appearing peak;

In the dreaded winter-time,

None save dappling shadows climb

Under clouds, my lonely head,

Old as the sun, old almost as the shade.

And comest thou

To see strange forests and new snow,

And tread uplifted land?

And leavest thou thy lowland race,

Here amid clouds to stand?

And wouldst be my companion

Where I gaze, and still shall gaze,

Through hoarding nights and spending days,

When forests fall, and man is gone,

Over tribes and over times,

At the burning Lyre,

Nearing me,

With its stars of northern fire,

In many a thousand years?


“Monadnock is a mountain strong,

Tall and good my kind among;

But well I know, no mountain can,

Zion or Meru, measure with man.

For it is on zodiacs writ,

Adamant is soft to wit:

And when the greater comes again

With my secret in his brain,

I shall pass, as glides my shadow

Daily over hill and meadow.

“Through all time, in light, in gloom,

Well I hear the approaching feet

On the flinty pathway beat

Of him that cometh, and shall come;

Of him who shall as lightly bear

My daily load of woods and streams,

As doth this round sky-cleaving boat

Which never strains its rocky beams;

Whose timbers, as they silent float,

Alps and Caucasus uprear,

And the long Alleghanies here,

And all town-sprinkled lands that be,

Sailing through stars with all their history.

“Every morn I lift my head,

See New England underspread,

South from Saint Lawrence to the Sound,

From Katskill east to the sea-bound.

Anchored fast for many an age,

I await the bard and sage,

Who, in large thoughts, like fair pearl-seed,

Shall string Monadnock like a bead.


He comes, but not of that race bred

Who daily climb my specular head.

Oft as morning wreathes my scarf,

Fled the last plumule of the Dark,

Pants up hither the spruce clerk

From South Cove and City Wharf.

I take him up my rugged sides,

Half-repentant, scant of breath,—

Bead-eyes my granite chaos show,

And my midsummer snow;

Open the daunting map beneath,—

All his county, sea and land,

Dwarfed to measure of his hand;

His day’s ride is a furlong space,

His city-tops a glimmering haze.

I plant his eyes on the sky hoop bounding;

“See there the grim gray rounding

Of the bullet of the earth

Whereon ye sail,

Tumbling steep

In the uncontinented deep.”

He looks on that, and he turns pale.

’T is even so, this treacherous kite,

Farm-furrowed, town-incrusted sphere,

Thoughtless of its anxious freight,

Plunges eyeless on forever;

And he, poor parasite,

Cooped in a ship he cannot steer,—

Who is the captain he knows not,

Port or pilot trows not,—

Risk or ruin he must share.

I scowl on him with my cloud,

With my north-wind chill his blood;

I lame him, clattering down the rocks;

And to live he is in fear.

Then, at last, I let him down

Once more into his dapper town,

To chatter, frightened to his clan,

And forget me if he can.”