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

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

The Falls of the Mongaup

By Alfred Billings Street (1811–1881)

STRUGGLING along the mountain path,

We hear, amid the gloom,

Like a roused giant’s voice of wrath,

A deep-toned, sullen boom:

Emerging on the platform high,

Burst sudden to the startled eye

Rocks, woods, and waters, wild and rude,—

A scene of savage solitude.

Swift as an arrow from the bow,

Headlong the torrent leaps,

Then tumbling round, in dazzling snow

And dizzy whirls it sweeps;

Then, shooting through the narrow aisle

Of this sublime cathedral pile,

Amid its vastness, dark and grim,

It peals its everlasting hymn.

Pyramid on pyramid of rock

Tower upward wild and riven,

As piled by Titan hands to mock

The distant smiling heaven.

And where its blue streak is displayed,

Branches their emerald network braid

So high, the eagle in his flight

Seems but a dot upon the sight.

Here columned hemlocks point in air

Their cone-like fringes green;

Their trunks hang knotted, black, and bare,

Like spectres o’er the scene;

Here, lofty crag and deep abyss,

And awe-inspiring precipice;

There, grottos bright in wave-worn gloss,

And carpeted with velvet moss.

No wandering ray e’er kissed with light

This rock-walled sable pool,

Spangled with foam-gems thick and white,

And slumbering deep and cool;

But where yon cataract roars down,

Set by the sun, a rainbow crown

Is dancing o’er the dashing strife,—

Hope glittering o’er the storm of life.

Beyond, the smooth and mirrored sheet

So gently steals along,

The very ripples, murmuring sweet,

Scarce drown the wild bee’s song;

The violet from the grassy side

Dips its blue chalice in the tide;

And, gliding o’er the leafy brink,

The deer, unfrightened, stoops to drink.

Myriads of man’s time-measured race

Have vanished from the earth,

Nor left a memory of their trace,

Since first this scene had birth;

These waters, thundering now along,

Joined in Creation’s matin-song;

And only by their dial-trees

Have known the lapse of centuries!