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

Middle States: Susquehanna, the River, Pa.


By Elizabeth Fries Ellet (1818–1877)


SOFTLY the blended light of evening rests

Upon thee, lovely stream! Thy gentle tide,

Picturing the gorgeous beauty of the sky,

Onward, unbroken by the ruffling wind,

Majestically flows. Oh! by thy side,

Far from the tumults and the throng of men,

And the vain cares that vex poor human life,

’T were happiness to dwell, alone with thee,

And the wide, solemn grandeur of the scene.

From thy green shores, the mountains that enclose

In their vast sweep the beauties of the plain,

Slowly receding, toward the skies ascend,

Enrobed with clustering woods, o’er which the smile

Of Autumn in his loveliness hath passed,

Touching their foliage with his brilliant hues,

And flinging o’er the lowliest leaf and shrub

His golden livery. On the distant heights

Soft clouds, earth-based, repose, and stretch afar

Their burnished summits in the clear, blue heaven,

Flooded with splendor, that the dazzled eye

Turns drooping from the sight.—Nature is here

Like a throned sovereign, and thy voice doth tell,

In music never silent, of her power.

Nor are thy tones unanswered, where she builds

Such monuments of regal sway. These wide,

Untrodden forests eloquently speak,

Whether the breath of summer stir their depths,

Or the hoarse moaning of November’s blast

Strip from their boughs their covering.


Far beyond this vale,

That sends to heaven its incense of lone flowers,

Gay village spires ascend,—and the glad voice

Of industry is heard. So in the lapse

Of future years these ancient woods shall bow

Beneath the levelling axe,—and man’s abodes

Displace their sylvan honors. They will pass

In turn away; yet, heedless of all change,

Surviving all, thou still wilt murmur on,

Lessoning the fleeting race that look on thee

To mark the wrecks of time, and read their doom.