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

Southern States: Tallulah (Terrora), the River, Ga.


By Paul Hamilton Hayne (1830–1886)

ALONE with Nature, when her passionate mood

Deepens and deepens, till from shadowy wood

And sombre shore the blended voices sound

Of five infuriate torrents, wanly crowned

With such pale-misted foam as that which starts

To whitening lips from frenzied human hearts!

Echo repeats the thunderous roll and boom

Of these vexed waters through the foliaged gloom

So wildly, in their grand, reverberant swell,

Borne from dim hillside to rock-bounded dell,

That oft the tumult seems

The vast, fantastic dissonance of dreams,—

A roar of adverse elements torn and riven

In gaunt recesses of some billowy hell,—

But sending ever through the tremulous air

Defiance, laden with august despair,

Up to the calm and pitiful face of heaven!

From ledge to ledge the impetuous current sweeps

Forever tortured, tameless, unsubdued,

Amid the darkly humid solitude;

Through waste and turbulent deeps

It cleaves a terrible pathway, overrun

Only by doubtful flickerings of the sun,

To meet with swift cross-eddies, whirlpools set

On verges of some measureless abyss;

Above the stir and fret,

The hollow lion’s roar, or serpent-hiss

Of whose unceasing conflict waged below

The gorges of the giant precipice,

Shines the mild splendor of a heavenly bow!

But blinded to the rainbow’s tender light,

Soft as the eyes of Mercy bent on Might,

Still with dark vapors all around it furled,

The demon-spirit of this watery world,

Through many a maddened curve and stormy throe,

Speeds to its last tumultuous overflow,—

When downward hurled from wildering shock to shock,

Its wild heart breaks upon the outmost rock

That guards the empire of this rule of wrath:

Henceforth, beyond the shattered cataract’s path,

The tempered spirit of a gentler guide

Enters, methinks, the unperturbèd tide,—

Its current sparkling in the blest release

From wasting passion, glides through shores of peace;

O’er brightened spaces and clear confluent calms

Float the hale breathings of near meadow balms;

And still by silent cove and silvery reach

The murmurous wavelets pass,

Lip the coy tendrils of the delicate grass,

And tranquil hour by hour

Uplift a crystal glass,

Wherein each lithe narcissus flower

May mark its slender frame and beauteous face

Mirrored in softly visionary grace,

And still, by fairy bight and shelving beach

The fair waves whisper, low as leaves in June—

(Small gossips lisping in their woodland bower),

And still, the ever-lessening tide

Lapses, as glides some once imperious life

From haughty summits of demoniac pride,

Hatred, and vengeful strife

Down through Time’s twilight-valleys purified,

Yearning alone to keep

A long predestined tryst with Night and Sleep,

Beneath the dew-soft kisses of the moon!