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 Saco

By John Greenleaf Whittier (1807–1892)

(From Mary Garvin)

FROM the heart of Waumbek Methna, from the lake that never fails,

Falls the Saco in the green lap of Conway’s intervales;

There, in wild and virgin freshness, its waters foam and flow,

As when Darby Field first saw them, two hundred years ago.

But, vexed in all its seaward course with bridges, dams, and mills,

How changed is Saco’s stream, how lost its freedom of the hills,

Since travelled Jocelyn, factor Vines, and stately Champernoon

Heard on its banks the gray wolfs howl, the trumpet of the loon!

With smoking axle hot with speed, with steeds of fire and steam,

Wide-waked To-day leaves Yesterday behind him like a dream.

Still, from the hurrying train of Life, fly backward far and fast

The milestones of the fathers, the landmarks of the past.

But human hearts remain unchanged: the sorrow and the sin,

The loves and hopes and fears of old, are to our own akin;

And if, in tales our fathers told, the songs our mothers sung,

Tradition wears a snowy beard, Romance is always young.