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

New England: Penikese, the Island, Mass.


By Thomas Gold Appleton (1812–1884)


NOT vainly Homer saw it in a dream,

Circling the world and bounding continents;

Our shore is girdled by an Ocean Stream,

Which nearest to the Vineyard Sound indents.

There fringing the azure deep are happy isles,

Which swim in warmth of Equatorial seas,

And gladden in the gracious Summer’s smiles,—

The smallest, nearest us is Penikese.

A string of pearls they lie on Ocean’s breast,

Steeped in a languor brought them from afar,

And drowse through summer days in silent rest,

Kissed by mild waves and loved of moon and star.

Once the shy Indian saw his shadow shake

Across the wave, as he withdrew his spear

From the struck bass, or heard within the brake

The tender grass torn by the feeding deer.

Those dumb, waste centuries of loss are o’er,

A better, nobler day to them succeeds:

Now Science rears her watch-tower by the shore,

Round it are scholars whom a teacher leads.

The light within the watch-tower is his mind,

Cosmic, with forms of life which end in man;

There all the tribes their place in order find,

As if he read the thought of God’s own plan.


Oh! happy ones who read the book of life,

Till ye through him in wisdom daily grow,

To find how far above Earth’s barren strife

Is the soul’s hunger—toil divine—to know.

What pastoral lives of true simplicity!

Plain living and high thinking, with the bond

Between them of a lofty sympathy,

Whose circlet rings this world and worlds beyond.

Hail! generous heart which gave its home of years!

Hail, too, ye youth who lean on such a guide!

Long may the shrine which now glad Science rears

Shine like a load-star o’er the waters wide.