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

New England: Otter, the River, Vt.

The River Otter

By Julia C. R. Dorr (1825–1913)

(From Centennial Poem)

A HUNDRED times the Summer’s fragrant blooms

Have laden all the air with sweet perfumes,—

A hundred times along the mountain-side

Autumn has flung his crimson banners wide,—

A hundred times has kindly Winter spread

His snowy mantle o’er the violet’s bed,—

A hundred times has Earth rejoiced to hear

The Spring’s light footsteps in the forest sere,

Since on yon grassy knoll the quick, sharp stroke

Of the young woodman’s axe the silence broke.

Not then did these encircling hills look down

On quaint old farmhouse or on steepled town.

No church-spires pointed to the arching skies;

No wandering lovers saw the moon arise;

No childish laughter mingled with the song

Of the fair Otter, as it flowed along

As brightly then as now. Ah! little recked

The joyous river, when the sunshine flecked

Its dancing wavelets, that no human eye

Gave it glad welcome as it frolicked by!

The long, uncounted years had come and flown,

And it had still swept on, unseen, unknown,

Biding its time. No minstrel sang its praise,

No poet named it in immortal lays.

It played no part in legendary lore,

And young Romance knew not its winding shore.