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

Western States: Kanawha, the River, West Va.

The Kanawha

By Lewis Ringe


NATURE’S lover, pause to see,

Where Kanawha wanders free;

Nature in her wildest mood,

Mid her grandest solitude;

With her mountains thronged around,

Listening to the torrent’s sound;

Hill and valley, rock and floods,

Waving with eternal woods:

Here the earth-cloud lowly creeping,

There along the summit sleeping;

Here the cliff uplifting high

Its bold forehead to the sky,

There, like a gigantic lover,

Bending with devotion over

The coy river, swift and clear,—

A gay, bounding mountaineer.

Now it winds away, away,

Sporting with its jewelled spray;

Now it seems to woo your feet,

But, ah! trust not the deceit;

Shrub and pebble though they seem,

Rock and forest guard the stream.

E’en the Grecian lover’s leap

Never tempted such a steep,

Where the hawkling far below

Nestles ’neath the beetling brow;

While along yon craggy bed

Lurks the vengeful copperhead,

And the avalanche of rock

Poises for an earthquake-shock.

All is fresh, sublime, and wild,

As when first by Nature piled,

Ere the white-man wandered here,

Or the red-man chased the deer,—

Naming, ere he fled forever,

This, his own Romantic River.