Home  »  Poems of Places An Anthology in 31 Volumes  »  The White Mountains

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

New England: White Mountains, N. H.

The White Mountains

By John Greenleaf Whittier (1807–1892)

(From The Bridal of Pennacook)

WE had been wandering for many days

Through the rough northern country. We had seen

The sunset, with its bars of purple cloud,

Like a new heaven, shine upward from the lake

Of Winnipiseogee; and had felt

The sunrise breezes, midst the leafy isles

Which stoop their summer beauty to the lips

Of the bright waters. We had checked our steeds,

Silent with wonder, where the mountain wall

Is piled to heaven; and, through the narrow rift

Of the vast rocks, against whose rugged feet

Beats the mad torrent with perpetual roar,

Where noonday is as twilight, and the wind

Comes burdened with the everlasting moan

Of forests and of far-off waterfalls,

We had looked upward where the summer sky,

Tasselled with clouds light-woven by the sun,

Sprung its blue arch above the abutting crags

O’er-roofing the vast portal of the land

Beyond the wall of mountains. We had passed

The high source of the Saco; and bewildered

In the dwarf spruce-belts of the Crystal Hills,

Had heard above us, like a voice in the cloud,

The horn of Fabyan sounding; and atop

Of old Agiochook had seen the mountains

Piled to the northward, shagged with wood, and thick

As meadow mole-hills,—the far sea of Casco,

A white gleam on the horizon of the east;

Fair lakes, embosomed in the woods and hills;

Moosehillock’s mountain range, and Kearsarge

Lifting his Titan forehead to the sun!

And we had rested underneath the oaks

Shadowing the bank, whose grassy spires are shaken

By the perpetual beating of the falls

Of the wild Ammonoosuc. We had tracked

The winding Pemigewasset, overhung

By beechen shadows, whitening down its rocks,

Or lazily gliding through its intervals,

From waving rye-fields sending up the gleam

Of sunlit waters. We had seen the moon

Rising behind Umbagog’s eastern pines,

Like a great Indian camp-fire; and its beams

At midnight spanning with a bridge of silver

The Merrimac by Uncanoonuc’s falls.