Home  »  Poems of Places An Anthology in 31 Volumes  »  Rapids of the Cedars

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
Americas: Vol. XXX. 1876–79.

British America: St. Lawrence (Cadaraqui), the River

Rapids of the Cedars

By Charles Sangster (1822–1893)

AGAIN the rush tumultuous—the bound—

The tossings to and fro—the surge—the swell;

The mighty uproar, and the crash profound;

That make the cedars a vast, watery hell,

More vast and grand than eloquence can tell.

How the strong surges strike the naked rocks

With Thor-like force, with purpose mad and fell!

The scornful reef their sudden onset mocks,

And like a mail-clad knight resists their deadliest shocks.

As when some host roused Tartarus invades,

The vast deeps heave with being; these white crests

Like furies seem to rise as from the shades,

To wreak their urging Demon’s grim behests.

What power and grace, what grandeur here invests

The awful shapes’ profound sonorous chime,

Could we divine that voice that never rests,

But shouts its solemn pæan through all time,

As the long ages toil on their grand march sublime.

The waters strike the unprotected isles,

And shake their leafy verdure. We can see

The church spire yonder as the moonlight smiles

Upon it; passing wildly, fancy-free,

Where we can touch the trees. In frolic glee

We ride the stoutest billows as the breeze

Wafts down a gracious perfume on our lee,

Fresh from the Isle of Flowers, where the bees

Sup with their Floral Queen on honeyed courtesies.

The current seeks no rest. Sullen and swift,

And hounded by the rapid in its fear,

Like a lost murderer it knows no thrift,

No peace forever: on his startled ear

A voice incessant peals; loud footfalls near

Tell of the dread pursuer. So the stream

Hears far-off howlings, vengeful, shrill, and drear,

Till like an arrow, like a sudden beam,

It strikes the vexed cascades, and ends its fitful dream.