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

New England: Nantasket, Mass.


By Mary Clemmer (1839–1884)


FAIR is thy face, Nantasket,

And fair thy curving shores,—

The peering spires of villages,

The boatman’s dipping oars,

The lonely ledge of Minot,

Where the watchman tends his light,

And sets his perilous beacon,

A star in the stormiest night.

Over thy vast sea highway

The great ships slide from sight,

And flocks of wingéd phantoms

Flit by, like birds in flight.

Over the toppling sea-wall

The home-bound dories float,

And I watch the patient fisherman

Bend in his anchored boat.

I am alone with Nature;

With the glad September day.

The leaning hills above me

With golden-rod are gay,

Across the fields of ether

Flit butterflies at play,

And cones of garnet sumach

Glow down the country way.

The autumn dandelion

Along the roadside burns;

Down from the lichened bowlders

Quiver the pluméd ferns;

The cream-white silk of the milkweed

Floats from its sea-green pod;

Out from the mossy rock-seams

Flashes the golden-rod.

The woodbine’s scarlet banners

Flaunt from their towers of stone;

The wan, wild morning-glory

Dies by the road alone;

By the hill-path to the seaside

Wave myriad azure bells;

And over the grassy ramparts lean

The milky immortelles.

Hosts of gold-hearted daisies

Nod by the wayside bars;

The tangled thicket of green is set

With the aster’s purple stars;

Beside the brook the gentian

Closes its fringéd eyes,

And waits the later glory

Of October’s yellow skies.

Within the sea-washed meadow

The wild grape climbs the wall,

And from the o’er-ripe chestnuts

The brown burs softly fall.

I see the tall reeds shiver

Beside the salt sea marge;

I see the sea-bird glimmer,

Far out on airy barge.

I hear in the groves of Hingham

The friendly caw of the crow,

Till I sit again in Wachusett’s woods,

In August’s sumptuous glow.

The tiny boom of the beetle

Strikes the shining rocks below;

The gauzy oar of the dragon-fly

Is beating to and fro.

As the lovely ghost of the thistle

Goes sailing softly by;

Glad in its second summer

Hums the awakened fly;

The cumulate cry of the cricket

Pierces the amber noon;

In from the vast sea-spaces comes

The clear call of the loon;

Over and through it all I hear

Ocean’s pervasive rune.

Against the warm sea-beaches

Bush the wavelets’ eager lips;

Away o’er the sapphire reaches

Move on the stately ships.

Peace floats on all their pennons,

Sailing silently the main,

As if never human anguish,

As if never human pain,

Sought the healing draught of Lethe,

Beyond the gleaming plain.

Fair is the earth behind me,

Vast is the sea before,

Away through the misty dimness

Glimmers a further shore.

It is no realm enchanted,

It cannot be more fair

Than this nook of Nature’s Kingdom,

With its spell of space and air.