Home  »  Poems of Places An Anthology in 31 Volumes  »  The Callicoon in Autumn

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

Middle States: Callicoon, the River, N. Y.

The Callicoon in Autumn

By Alfred Billings Street (1811–1881)

  • A charming forest stream of Sullivan County, uniting with the Willewemoc and flowing into the Delaware.

  • FAR, in the forest’s heart, unknown

    Except to sun and breeze,

    Where Solitude her dreaming throne

    Has held for centuries;

    Chronicled by the rings and moss

    That tell the flight of years across

    The seamed and columned trees,

    This lovely streamlet glides along

    With tribute of eternal song!

    Now, stealing through its thickets deep

    In which the wood-duck hides;

    Now, picturing in its basin sleep

    Its green, pool-hollowed sides;

    Here, through the pebbles slow it creeps,

    There, in some wild abyss it sweeps,

    And, foaming, hoarsely chides:

    Then slides so still, its gentle swell

    Scarce ripples round the lily’s bell.

    Nature, in her autumnal dress

    Magnificent and gay,

    Displays her brightest loveliness,

    Though nearest her decay;

    The sky is spread in silvery sheen,

    With breaks of tenderest blue between,

    Through which the timid ray

    Struggles in faintest, meekest glow,

    And rests in dreamy hues below.

    The southwest airs of ladened balm

    Come breathing sweetly by,

    And wake, amid the forest’s calm,

    One quick and shivering sigh,

    Shaking, but dimpling not the glass

    Of this smooth streamlet, as they pass,

    They scarcely wheel on high

    The thistle’s downy, silver star,

    To waft its pendent seed afar.

    Sleep-like the silence, by the lapse

    Of waters only broke,

    And the woodpecker’s fitful taps

    Upon the hollow oak;

    And, mingling with the insect hum,

    The beatings of the partridge drum,

    With now and then a croak,

    As, on his flapping wing, the crow

    O’er passes, heavily and slow.

    A foliage world of glittering dyes

    Gleams brightly on the air,

    As though a thousand sunset skies,

    With rainbows, blended there;

    Each leaf an opal, and each tree

    A bower of varied brilliancy,

    And all one general glare

    Of splendor that o’erwhelms the sight

    With dazzling and unequalled light.

    Rich gold with gorgeous crimson, here,

    The birch and maple twine,

    The beech its orange mingles near,

    With emerald of the pine;

    And even the humble bush and herb

    Are glowing with those tints superb,

    As though a scattered mine

    Of gems upon the earth were strown,

    Flashing with radiance, each its own.

    All steeped in that delicious charm

    Peculiar to our land,

    That comes, ere Winter’s frosty arm

    Knits Nature’s icy band;

    The purple, rich, and glimmering smoke,

    That forms the Indian Summer’s cloak,

    When, by soft breezes fanned,

    For a few precious days he broods

    Amid the gladdened fields and woods.

    The squirrel chatters merrily,

    The nut falls ripe and brown,

    And, gem-like, from the jewelled tree

    The leaf comes fluttering down;

    And restless in his plumage gay,

    From bush to bush loud screams the jay,

    And on the hemlock’s crown

    The sentry pigeon guards from foe

    The flock that dots the woods below.

    See! on this edge of forest lawn,

    Where sleeps the clouded beam,

    A doe has led her spotted fawn

    To gambol by the stream;

    Beside yon mullein’s braided stalk

    They hear the gurgling voices talk,

    While, like a wandering gleam,

    The yellow-bird dives here and there,

    A feathered vessel of the air.

    On, through the rampart walls of rock,

    The waters pitch in white,

    And high, in mist, the cedars lock

    Their boughs, half lost to sight

    Above the whirling gulf,—the dash

    Of frenzied floods, that vainly lash

    Their limits in their flight,

    Whose roar the eagle, from his peak,

    Responds to with his angriest shriek.

    Stream of the wilds! the Indian here,

    Free as thy chainless flow,

    Has bent against thy depths his spear,

    And in thy woods his bow,—

    The beaver built his dome; but they,

    The memories of an earlier day,—

    Like those dead trunks, that show

    What once were mighty pines,—have fled

    With Time’s unceasing, rapid tread.