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

New England: Saco, the River, N. H. and Me.

The River Saco

By James Gilborne Lyons (d. 1868)

FROM Agiochook’s granite steeps,

Fair Saco rolls in chainless pride,

Rejoicing as it laughs and leaps

Down the gray mountain’s rugged side;—

The stern rent crags and tall dark pines

Watch that young pilgrim flashing by,

While close above them frowns or shines

The black torn cloud, or deep blue sky.

Soon gathering strength it swiftly takes

Through Bartlett’s vales its tuneful way,

Or hides in Conway’s fragrant brakes,

Retreating from the glare of day;—

Now, full of vigorous life, it springs

From the strong mountain’s circling arms,

And roams, in wide and lucid rings,

Among green Fryeburg’s woods and farms.

Here with low voice it comes and calls

For tribute from some hermit lake,

And here it wildly foams and falls,

Bidding the forest echoes wake;—

Now sweeping on it runs its race

By mound and mill in playful glee;—

Now welcomes, with its pure embrace,

The vestal waves of Ossipee.

At last, with loud and solemn roar,

Spurning each rocky ledge and bar,

It sinks where, on the sounding shore,

The broad Atlantic heaves afar;—

There, on old ocean’s faithful breast,

Its wealth of waves it proudly flings,

And there its weary waters rest,

Clear as they left their crystal springs.

Sweet stream! it were a fate divine,

Till this world’s toils and tasks were done,

To go, like those bright floods of thine,

Refreshing all, enslaved by none,—

To pass through scenes of calm and strife,

Singing, like thee, with holy mirth,

And close in peace a varied life,

Unsullied by one stain of earth.