Home  »  Poems of Places An Anthology in 31 Volumes  »  The Perkiomen

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

Middle States: Perkiomen, the River, Pa.

The Perkiomen

By Isaac R. Pennypacker (1852–1935)

HERE, in times long gone, October bright

In sombre forests set her glory-light;

Where village street leads o’er the bridge’s span,

Among brown hills and peaceful meadows ran

The Perkiomen singing all the day.

For well-tilled fields gave back an hundred fold,

And well-filled barns could scarce their treasure hold.

The orchards bending ’neath the weight they bore

Cast down their golden fruit upon the shore

Of Perkiomen singing all the day.

There came a change; the leaves upon the wood

Burned brighter with a color as of blood.

The waving Northern Lights, the camp-fire’s glow

Seemed from the heights a tinge of blood to throw

On Perkiomen at the close of day.

At morn a host marched proudly to the fight,

And some returned their camp-fires to relight,

And some to hear awhile the waters flow,

Then ears grew dull in coming death, and low

The Perkiomen sang on that dread day.

And prayers in many distant homes were said

By hearts that ne’er again were comforted,

While here the soldier saw in dreams again

Home scenes made vivid by the sad refrain

Of Perkiomen singing all the day.

Yet mid the gloom and doubt the living learned

How still defeat to victory might be turned,

Until the cannon thundered from the hill

A conquest’s tale, and glad below the mill

The Perkiomen sang on that great day.

But nature soon forgets: that camp is lost,

She hides the graves of all that arméd host;

On the same site now stands another mill,

Another miller leans on the white sill

To hear the Perkiomen sing to-day.

Let not our hearts forget. Lo! Time makes plain

How from the sacrifice has grown our gain;

Here orchards bloom; each year its harvest brings,

And clearer still of peace and plenty sings

The Perkiomen all the autumn day.