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

Western States: Ohio, the River

The Ohio

By Count Anton Alexander von Auersperg (Anastasius Grün) (1806–1876)

(From The Ship Cincinnatus)
Translated by C. T. Brooks

ALL hail to thee, Ohio, lovely stream,

That sweepest, murmuring, by, in holy dream,

New cities with their market-din profane,

Colossal rocks and fields of golden grain!

Emblem of Time, here drifts along on thee,

Uprooted by the storm, the giant tree,

The steamer’s floating palace there we view,

And yonder skims the red-man’s birch canoe!

Here heardest thou the Briton’s haggling word,

There the poor, errant Indian’s moan was heard,

Thou listenest now the German’s heartfelt song,

That homeward floats on tide of yearning strong!

Thou sang’st my cradle-song, thou wast to me,

In youth, the mirror fair of purity,

And whisperest to my heart in manhood’s hour

Full many a word of earnestness and power!

Thou see’st my father’s house, so German, there,

As if in airy flight such angel-pair,

As bore Loretto’s house of charity,

Right from the Rhine had brought thee o’er the sea.

I greet you, ye twin Lares, I your child;

Great Frederick, thee! thee, Joseph, wise and mild!—

A rose-bush, climbing, peeps through window-pane,

He too, as twig, once measured the wide main.

He sailed, one day, an Argonaut of spring,

From the safe port of home took sudden wing,

The golden sun-fleece of far springs to find,

And left his darling nightingale behind.

Thy love of home, O German! hath a glow

Like to the fiery wine’s that sparkles so,

And which, o’er farthest seas transported, glows

More deeply and a richer flavor shows.

Before the house there lies a field; all round,

Stumps of felled trees stand scattered o’er the ground,

An old-world’s forum, of whose columns tall

The storming foe left many a pedestal.

And in the midst, on one, his deeds to scan,

As Triumphator, sits a grave old man;

His flashing axe, the sceptre in his hand,

His plough, a conqueror’s car, drove through the land!

That is my sire! His bristling host behold!

Ranged, lance to lance, and glittering all in gold!

The golden grain encamping near and far,

To guard their kernel, all arrayed for war!

Troops of the Rhine are they, whose tents he bore,

And, victor, planted on Ohio’s shore;

Like homesick soldiers on a foreign strand,

They whisper of their far, dear Fatherland.

Gay swarms of humming-birds of brightest hue,

Like damsels, flutter round, the ranks to woo;

Ye wantons! leave me not unnerved, unmanned,—

One heart in all that noble foreign band!

The herd that night brings lowing to thy gate,

O hero, is thy Poet Laureate;

Like his, their voice, when hunger wakes their cries,

In loudest, loftiest strains will ever rise.

See giant trees thy axe forbore to smite,

Stretch out their arms, festooned in towering height,

With wanton serpent-flowers;—they suppliant stand,

Envoys of peace they came from forest-land!

And nightly, when, through the old wood’s dark green,

Myriads of fireflies, glancing, light the scene,

’T is the illumination’s festal blaze

The captive city to its conqueror pays!

But lo, by moonlight, yonder, dead and bare,

A few old patriarchs lift their arms in air,

Like ghosts of veterans in the battle slain,

Wringing their hands and writhing on the plain!

Lo, the far billows of a fiery sea!

The camp-fire of the routed host may ’t be?

As if a choir of seraphs swung on high

The flaming sword, the wood lights up the sky!

The window-rose reflects the reddening light,

She nods a greeting to the outer night,

Yet to console her, all these charms will fail,

For the familiar German nightingale.

Thou hast achieved a noble Fatherland!

Why sinks, old man, thy head upon thy hand?

Do the still roses of thy heart, too, miss

The nightingale of home to crown their bliss?