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

New England: Great Barrington, Mass.

Monument Mountain

By William Cullen Bryant (1794–1878)


THOU who wouldst see the lovely and the wild

Mingled in harmony on Nature’s face,

Ascend our rocky mountains. Let thy foot

Fail not with weariness, for on their tops

The beauty and the majesty of earth,

Spread wide beneath, shall make thee to forget

The steep and toilsome way. There, as thou stand’st,

The haunts of men below thee, and around

The mountain summits, thy expanding heart

Shall feel a kindred with that loftier world

To which thou art translated, and partake

The enlargement of thy vision. Thou shalt look

Upon the green and rolling forest tops,

And down into the secrets of the glens,

And streams, that with their bordering thickets strive

To hide their windings. Thou shalt gaze, at once,

Here on white villages, and tilth, and herds,

And swarming roads, and there on solitudes

That only hear the torrent, and the wind,

And eagle’s shriek. There is a precipice

That seems a fragment of some mighty wall,

Built by the hand that fashioned the old world,

To separate its nations, and thrown down

When the flood drowned them. To the north, a path

Conducts you up the narrow battlement.

Steep is the western side, shaggy and wild

With mossy trees, and pinnacles of flint,

And many a hanging crag. But, to the east,

Sheer to the vale go down the bare old cliffs,—

Huge pillars, that in middle heaven upbear

Their weather-beaten capitals, here dark

With moss, the growth of centuries, and there

Of chalky whiteness where the thunderbolt

Has splintered them. It is a fearful thing

To stand upon the beetling verge, and see

Where storm and lightning, from that huge gray wall,

Have tumbled down vast blocks, and at the base

Dashed them in fragments, and to lay thine ear

Over the dizzy depth, and hear the sound

Of winds, that struggle with the woods below,

Come up like ocean murmurs. But the scene

Is lovely round; a beautiful river there

Wanders amid the fresh and fertile meads,

The paradise he made unto himself,

Mining the soil for ages. On each side

The fields swell upward to the hills; beyond,

Above the hills, in the blue distance, rise

The mountain columns with which earth props heaven.