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

New England: Parker River, Mass.

Parker River

By Henry Henderson (1831–1888)

Where the First Settlers of Newbury Landed in September, 1634

THROUGH broad gleaming meadows of billowy grass,

That forms at its outlet a long narrow pass,

The river comes down

By farms whose high tillage gives note to the town,

As sparkling and bright

As it gladdened the sight

Of the fathers who first found its beautiful shore,

And felt here was home,—they need wander no more.

When the swallows were gathering in flocks for their flight,

As if conscious some foe of their kind were in sight,

They pushed up the stream

In the low level rays of the sun’s lingering beam,

That lit all below

With a magical glow,

That brought by resemblance old England to mind,

Whose shores they had left with such heart-ache behind.

The golden-rod waved its bright plumes from the bank,

As if all the sunshine of summer it drank,

And grapes full and fair

Their wild native fragrance flung out on the air;

And asters, and all

The gay flowerets of fall

That lengthen the season’s long dreamy delight,

Were crowding the woodside their beauty made bright.

In the soft sunny days of September they came,

When the trees here and there were alight with the flame

That betokens decay

And the passing of summer in glory away;

As if the great Cause

Of Nature’s grand laws

Had set his red signet that here should be stayed

The tide of the year in its pomp and parade.

And now, as I stand on this broad open height,

And take in the view with enraptured delight,

I feel as they felt

Who in fervor of soul by these bright waters knelt,

That here I could rest

In the consciousness blest

That Nature has given all heart, hand, or eye

Could crave for contentment that earth can supply;—

The limitless ocean that stretches away

Beyond the bright islets that light up the bay,

The murmurous roar

Of the surf breaking in on the long line of shore,

And rivers that run

Like gold in the sun,

And broad sunny hillsides and bright breezy groves,

And all one instinctively longs for and loves.

Trees bending with fruit touched with tints of the morn,

Fields soft with the late springing verdure unshorn,

And glimpses so fair

Of city and river and sails here and there,

And cottages white

On the beach by the light,—

The picturesque roadside, and vistas that seem

Like openings to fairy-land seen but in dream.


Adieu, gentle river! though long I may wait

Ere here I shall stand at the day’s golden gate,

And take in the view

That brings back the past as so old and so new;

Yet memory will still

Haunt this storied old hill

Whence I see as in vision the prospect unrolled

In all the bright splendor of purple and gold.