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

Middle States: Delaware, the River

The Delaware Water-Gap

By Elizabeth Fries Ellet (1818–1877)


OUR western land can boast no lovelier spot.

The hills which in their ancient grandeur stand

Piled to the frowning clouds, the bulwarks seem

Of this wild scene, resolved that none but Heaven

Shall look upon its beauty. Bound their breast

A curtained fringe depends, of golden mist,

Touched by the slanting sunbeams; while below

The silent river, with majestic sweep,

Pursues his shadowed way,—his glassy face

Unbroken, save when stoops the lone wild swan

To float in pride, or dip his ruffled wing.

Talk ye of solitude? It is not here.

Nor silence. Low, deep murmurs are abroad.

Those towering hills hold converse with the sky

That smiles upon their summits; and the wind

Which stirs their wooded sides whispers of life,

And bears the burden sweet from leaf to leaf,

Bidding the stately forest-boughs look bright,

And nod to greet his coming! And the brook,

That with its silvery gleam comes leaping down

From the hillside, has, too, a tale to tell;

The wild bird’s music mingles with its chime;

And gay young flowers, that blossom in its path,

Send forth their perfume as an added gift.

The river utters, too, a solemn voice,

And tells of deeds long past, in ages gone,

When not a sound was heard along his shores,

Save the wild tread of savage feet, or shriek

Of some expiring captive, and no bark

E’er cleft his gloomy waters. Now, his waves

Are vocal often with the hunter’s song;

Now visit, in their glad and onward course,

The abodes of happy men,—gardens and fields,

And cultured plains,—still bearing, as they pass,

Fertility renewed and fresh delights.