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

Middle States: Shelter Island, N. Y.

My Native Isle

By Mary Gardiner Horsford (1824–1855)

MY native isle! my native isle!

Forever round thy sunny steep

The low waves curl, with sparkling foam,

And solemn murmurs deep;

While o’er the surging waters blue

The ceaseless breezes throng,

And in the grand old woods awake

An everlasting song.

The sordid strife and petty cares

That crowd the city’s street,

The rush, the race, the storm of Life,

Upon thee never meet;

But quiet and contented hearts

Their daily tasks fulfil,

And meet with simple hope and trust

The coming good or ill.

The spireless church stands, plain and brown,

The winding road beside;

The green graves rise in silence near,

With moss-grown tablets wide;

And early on the Sabbath morn,

Along the flowery sod,

Unfettered souls, with humble prayer,

Go up to worship God.

And dearer far than sculptured fane

Is that gray church to me,

For in its shade my mother sleeps,

Beneath the willow-tree;

And often, when my heart is raised

By sermon and by song,

Her friendly smile appears to me

From the seraphic throng.

The sunset glow, the moonlit stream,

Part of my being are;

The fairy flowers that bloom and die,

The skies so clear and far:

The stars that circle Night’s dark brow,

The winds and waters free,

Each with a lesson all its own,

Are monitors to me.

The systems in their endless march

Eternal truth proclaim;

The flowers God’s love from day to day

In gentlest accents name;

The skies for burdened hearts and faint

A code of Faith prepare;

What tempest ever left the Heaven

Without a blue spot there?

My native isle! my native isle!

In sunnier climes I ’ve strayed,

But better love thy pebbled beach

And lonely forest glade,

Where low winds stir with fragrant breath

The purple violet’s head,

And the star-grass in the early Spring

Peeps from the sere leaf’s bed.

I would no more of strife and tears

Might on thee ever meet,

But when against the tide of years

This heart hath ceased to beat,

Where the green weeping-willows bend

I fain would go to rest,

Where waters chant, and winds may sweep

Above my peaceful breast.