Home  »  Poems of Places An Anthology in 31 Volumes  »  Summer by the Lakeside

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

New England: Winnipesaukee, the Lake, N. H.

Summer by the Lakeside

By John Greenleaf Whittier (1807–1892)

WHITE clouds, whose shadows haunt the deep,

Light mists, whose soft embraces keep

The sunshine on the hills asleep!

O isles of calm!—O dark, still wood!

And stiller skies that overbrood

Your rest with deeper quietude!

O shapes and hues, dim beckoning, through

Yon mountain gaps, my longing view

Beyond the purple and the blue,

To stiller sea and greener land,

And softer lights and airs more bland,

And skies,—the hollow of God’s hand!

Transfused through you, O mountain friends!

With mine your solemn spirit blends,

And life no more hath separate ends.

I read each misty mountain sign,

I know the voice of wave and pine,

And I am yours, and ye are mine.

Life’s burdens fall, its discords cease,

I lapse into the glad release

Of Nature’s own exceeding peace.

O welcome calm of heart and mind!

As falls yon fir-tree’s loosened rind

To leave a tenderer growth behind,

So fall the weary years away;

A child again, my head I lay

Upon the lap of this sweet day.

This western wind hath Lethean powers,

Yon noonday cloud nepenthe showers,

The lake is white with lotus-flowers!

Even Duty’s voice is faint and low,

And slumberous Conscience, waking slow,

Forgets her blotted scroll to show.

The Shadow which pursues us all,

Whose ever-nearing steps appall,

Whose voice we hear behind us call,—

That Shadow blends with mountain gray,

It speaks but what the light waves say,—

Death walks apart from Fear to-day!

Rocked on her breast, these pines and I

Alike on Nature’s love rely;

And equal seems to live or die.

Assured that He whose presence fills

With light the spaces of these hills

No evil to his creatures wills,

The simple faith remains, that He

Will do, whatever that may be,

The best alike for man and tree.

What mosses over one shall grow,

What light and life the other know,

Unanxious, leaving Him to show.

Yon mountain’s side is black with night,

While, broad-orbed, o’er its gleaming crown

The moon, slow-rounding into sight,

On the hushed inland sea looks down.

How start to light the clustering isles,

Each silver-hemmed! How sharply show

The shadows of their rocky piles,

And tree-tops in the wave below!

How far and strange the mountains seem,

Dim-looming through the pale, still light!

The vague, vast grouping of a dream,

They stretch into the solemn night.

Beneath, lake, wood, and peopled vale,

Hushed by that presence grand and grave,

Are silent, save the cricket’s wail,

And low response of leaf and wave.

Fair scenes! whereto the Day and Night

Make rival love, I leave ye soon,

What time before the eastern light

The pale ghost of the setting moon

Shall hide behind yon rocky spines,

And the young archer, Morn, shall break

His arrows on the mountain pines,

And, golden-sandalled, walk the lake!

Farewell! around this smiling bay

Gay-hearted Health, and Life in bloom,

With lighter steps than mine, may stray

In radiant summers yet to come.

But none shall more regretful leave

These waters and these hills than I:

Or, distant, fonder dream how eve

Or dawn is painting wave and sky;

How rising moons shine sad and mild

On wooded isle and silvering bay;

Or setting suns beyond the piled

And purple mountains lead the day;

Nor laughing girl, nor bearding boy,

Nor full-pulsed manhood, lingering here,

Shall add, to life’s abounding joy,

The charmed repose to suffering dear.

Still waits kind Nature to impart

Her choicest gifts to such as gain

An entrance to her loving heart

Through the sharp discipline of pain.

For ever from the Hand that takes

One blessing from us others fall!

And, soon or late, our Father makes

His perfect recompense to all!

O watched by Silence and the Night,

And folded in the strong embrace

Of the great mountains, with the light

Of the sweet heavens upon thy face,

Lake of the Northland! keep thy dower

Of beauty still, and while above

Thy solemn mountains speak of power,

Be thou the mirror of God’s love.