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

New England: Merrimac, the River

The Merrimac Revisited

By John Greenleaf Whittier (1807–1892)

THE ROLL of drums and the bugle’s wailing

Vex the air of our vales no more;

The spear is beaten to hooks of pruning,

The share is the sword the soldier wore!

Sing soft, sing low, our lowland river,

Under thy banks of laurel bloom;

Softly and sweet, as the hour beseemeth,

Sing us the songs of peace and home.

Let all the tenderer voices of nature

Temper the triumph and chasten mirth,

Full of the infinite love and pity

For fallen martyr and darkened hearth.

But to Him who gives us beauty for ashes,

And the oil of joy for mourning long,

Let thy hills give thanks, and all thy waters

Break into jubilant waves of song!

Bring us the airs of hills and forests,

The sweet aroma of birch and pine,

Give us a waft of the north-wind laden

With sweetbrier odors and breath of kine!

Bring us the purple of mountain sunsets,

Shadows of clouds that rake the hills,

The green repose of thy Plymouth meadows,

The gleam and ripple of Campton rills.

Lead us away in shadow and sunshine,

Slaves of fancy, through all thy miles,

The winding ways of Pemigewasset,

And Winnipisaukee’s hundred isles.

Shatter in sunshine over thy ledges,

Laugh in thy plunges from fall to fall;

Play with thy fringes of elms, and darken

Under the shade of the mountain wall.

The cradle-song of thy hillside fountains

Here in thy glory and strength repeat;

Give us a taste of thy upland music,

Show us the dance of thy silver feet.

Into thy dutiful life of uses

Pour the music and weave the flowers;

With the song of birds and bloom of meadows

Lighten and gladden thy heart and ours.

Sing on! bring down, O lowland river,

The joy of the hills to the waiting sea;

The wealth of the vales, the pomp of mountains,

The breath of the woodlands, bear with thee.

Here, in the calm of thy seaward valley,

Mirth and labor shall hold their truce;

Dance of water and mill of grinding,

Both are beauty and both are use.

Type of the Northland’s strength and glory,

Pride and hope of our home and race,—

Freedom lending to rugged labor

Tints of beauty and lines of grace.

Once again, O beautiful river,

Hear our greetings and take our thanks;

Hither we come, as Eastern pilgrims

Throng to the Jordan’s sacred banks.

For though by the Master’s feet untrodden,

Though never his word has stilled thy waves,

Well for us may thy shores be holy,

With Christian altars and saintly graves.

And well may we own thy hint and token

Of fairer valleys and streams than these,

Where the rivers of God are full of water,

And full of sap are his healing trees!