Home  »  Poems of Places An Anthology in 31 Volumes  »  The Cataract of the Mohawk

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

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

The Cataract of the Mohawk

By Richard Hengist Horne (1802–1884)

YE black rocks, huddled like a fallen wall,

Ponderous and steep,

Where silver currents downward coil and fall,

And rank weeds weep!—

Thou broad and shallow bed, whose sullen floods,

Show barren islets of red stones and sand,—

Shrunk is thy might beneath a fatal Hand,

That will erase all memories from the woods.

No more with war-paint, shells, and feathers grim,

The Indian chief

Casts his long, frightful shade from bank or brim.

A blighted leaf

Floats by,—the emblem of his history!

For though when rains are strong, the cataract

Again rolls on, its currents soon contract,

Or serve for neighboring mill and factory.

A cloud—of dragon’s blood in hue—hangs blent

With streaks and veins

Of gall-stone yellow, and of orpiment,

O’er thy remains.

Never again, with grandeur, in the beam

Of sunrise, or of noon, or changeful night,

Shalt thou in thunder chant thine old birthright:

Fallen Mohawk! pass to thy stormy dream!