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

Southern States: Peaks of Otter, Va.

To the Peaks of Otter

By Jane Tayloe Worthington (d. 1847)

FAIR are the sunset hues, thy dark brow blessing,

O mountain, with their gift of golden rays;

And the few floating clouds, thy crest caressing,

Seem guardian angels to my raptured gaze:

I have looked on thee through the saddest tears

That ever human sorrow taught to flow,

And thou wilt come, in life’s recalling years,

Linked with the memory of my deepest woe.

Yet well I love thee, in thy silent mystery,

Thy purple shadows and thy glowing light,—

Thou art to me a most poetic history

Of stillest beauty and of stormiest might:

I owe thee, O sublime and solemn mountain,

For many hours of vision and of thought,

For pleasant draughts from fancy’s gushing fountain,

For bright illusions by thy presence brought.

And more I thank thee, for the deeper learning

That soothes my spirit as I look on thee,

For thou hast laid upon my soul’s wild yearning

The holy spell of thy tranquillity:

I shall recall thee with a long regretting,

And often pine to see thy brow, in vain,

While Thought, returning, fond and unforgetting,

Will trace thy form in glory-tints again.

And thou, in thine experience, all material,

Wilt never know how worshipped thou hast been;

No glimpses of the life that is ethereal

Shadow thy face, eternally serene!

Thou hast not felt the impulse of resistance,—

Thy lot has linked thee with the earth alone:

Thou art no traveller to a new existence,

Thou hast no future to be lost or won.

The past for thee contains no bitter fountain,—

Thou hast no onward mission to fulfil;

And I would learn from thee, O silent mountain,

All things enduring, to be tranquil still!

And now, with that fond reverence of feeling

We owe whatever wakes our loftiest thought,

I can but offer thee, in faint revealing,

These idle thanks for all that thou hast brought.