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

New England: Penobscot, the River, Me.

The Phantom City

By Frances L. Mace (1836–1899)

(From Norombega)

MIDSUMMER’S crimson moon,

Above the hills like some night-opening rose,

Uplifted, pours its beauty down the vale

Where broad Penobscot flows.


And I remember now

That this is haunted ground. In ages past

Here stood the storied Norembega’s walls

Magnificent and vast.

The streets were ivory paved,

The stately walls were built of golden ore,

Its domes outshone the sunset, and full boughs

Hesperian fruitage bore.

And up this winding flood

Has wandered many a sea-tossed daring bark,

While eager eyes have scanned the rugged shore,

Or pierced the wildwood dark.

But watched in vain; afar

They saw the spires gleam golden on the sky,

The distant drum-beat heard, or bugle-note

Wound wildly, fitfully.

Banners of strange device

Beckoned from distant heights, yet as the stream

Narrowed among the hills, the city fled

A mystery,—or a dream.

In the deep forest hid

Like the enchanted princess of romance,

Wooing an endless search, yet still secure

In her unbroken trance.

O city of the Past!

No mirage of the wilderness wert thou!

Though yet unfreed from the mysterious spell,

I deem thee slumbering now.

Perhaps invisible feet,

White-sandalled, pass amid the moonbeams pale;

Yon shadowy wave may be some lordly barge

Drifting with phantom sail.

The legend was not all

A myth, it was a prophecy as well;

In Norembega’s cloud-rapt palaces

The living yet shall dwell.

Fed by its hundred lakes,

Here shall the river run o’er golden sands!

These hills in burnished tower and temple shine

Beneath the Builder’s hands.

Where tarries still the hour

When the true knight shall the enchantment break?

Unveil the peerless city of the East,

The charméd princess wake?

Till then, O river! tell

To none but dreaming bards the Future’s boon!

Till then, guard thou the mystery of the vale,

Midsummer midnight moon!