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

Southern States: Oconee, the River, Ga.


By Henry R. Jackson (1820–1898)

OCONEE! in my tranquil slumbers,

At the silent dead of night,

Oft I see thy golden waters

Flashing in the rosy light;

And flashing brightly, gushing river,

On the spirit of my dream,

As in moments fled forever,

When I wandered by thy stream,—

A forest lad, a careless rover,

Rising at the dawn of day,

With my dog and gun,—a hunter,

Shouting o’er the hills away,—

And ever would my shoeless footprints

Trace the shortest path to thee;

There the plumpest squirrel ever

Chuckled on the chestnut-tree.

And when, at noon, the sun of summer

Glowed too fiercely from the sky,

On thy banks were bowers grateful

To a rover such as I,

Among the forest branches woven

By the richly scented vine,

Yellow jasmine, honeysuckle,

And by creeping muscadine.

And there I lay in pleasant slumber,

And the rushing of thy stream

Ever made a gentle music,

Blending softly with my dream,—

My dream of her who near thy waters

Grew beneath my loving eye,

Fairest maid of Georgia’s daughters,—

Sweetest flower beneath her sky!

With snowy brow, and golden ringlets,

Eyes that beggared heaven’s blue,

Voice as soft as summer streamlets,

Lips as fresh as morning dew!—

Although she played me oft the coquette,

Dealing frowns and glances shy,

These but made her smiles the dearer

To a rover such as I.

What if the earth by fairer river

Nursed more beauteous maid than she,—

He had found a slow believer

Who had told that tale to me;

And sure I am, no knighted lover

Truer faith to ladie bore,

Than the little barefoot rover,

Dreaming on thy pleasant shore.

The happiest hours of life are vanished;

She has vanished with them, too!

Other bright-eyed Georgia damsels

Blossom where my lily grew;—

And yet the proudest, and the sweetest

To my heart can never seem

Lovely as the little Peri

Mouldering by thy murmurous stream!