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

New England: Mount Hope, R. I.

Mount Hope

By W. A. Croffut (1835–1915)

  • Mount Hope, the highest headland in Rhode Island, was the ancient seat of Metacomet,—“King Philip,”—the indomitable chief of the Wampanoags. When, after a long and bloody war, he was conquered and killed at last, his wife—Queen Wootonekanusky—was dragged from her home on Mount Hope, and sold into slavery in Barbadoes.

  • I STROLL through verdant fields to-day,

    Through waving woods and pastures sweet,

    To the red warrior’s ancient seat

    Where liquid voices of the bay

    Babble in tropic tongues around its rocky feet.

    I put my lips to Philip’s spring;

    I sit in Philip’s granite chair;

    And thence I climb up, stair by stair,

    And stand where once the savage king

    Stood and with eye of hawk cleft the blue round of air.

    On Narragansett’s sunny breast

    This necklace of fair islands shone,

    And Philip, muttering, “All my own!”

    Looked north and south and east and west,

    And waved his sceptre from this alabaster throne.

    His beacon on Pocasset hill,

    Lighting the hero’s path to fame

    Whene’er the crafty Pequot came,

    Blazed as the windows of yon mill

    Now blaze at set of sun with day’s expiring flame.

    Always, at midnight, from a cloud,

    An eagle swoops, and hovering nigh

    This peak, utters one piercing cry

    Of wrath and anguish, long and loud,

    And plunges once again into the silent sky!

    The Wampanoags, long since dead,

    Who to these islands used to cling,

    Spake of this shrieking midnight thing

    With bated breath, and, shuddering, said,

    “’T is angry Philip’s voice,—the spectre of the king!”

    All things are changed. Here Bristol sleeps

    And dreams within her emerald tent;

    Yonder are picnic tables bent

    Beneath their burden; up the steeps

    The martial strains arise and songs of merriment.

    I pluck an aster on the crest;

    It is a child of one, I know,

    Plucked here two hundred years ago,

    And worn upon the slave-queen’s breast,—

    O, that this blossom had a tongue to tell its woe!