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

Introductory to Western States

To the West

By William D. Gallagher (1808–1894)

LAND of the West!—green forest-land!

Clime of the fair, and the immense!

Favorite of Nature’s liberal hand,

And child of her munificence!

Filled with a rapture warm, intense,

High on a cloud-girt hill I stand;

And with clear vision gazing thence,

Thy glories round me far expand:

Rivers, whose likeness earth has not,

And lakes, that elsewhere seas would be,

Whose shores the countless wild herds dot,

Fleet as the winds, and all as free;

Mountains that pierce the bending sky;

And with the storm-cloud warfare wage,

Shooting their glittering peaks on high,

To mock the fierce red lightning’s rage;

Arcadian vales, with vine-hung bowers,

And grassy nooks, ’neath beechen shade,

Where dance the never-resting Hours,

To music of the bright cascade;

Skies softly beautiful, and blue

As Italy’s, with stars as bright;

Flowers rich as morning’s sunrise hue,

And gorgeous as the gemmed midnight.

Land of the West! green forest-land!

Thus hath Creation’s bounteous hand

Upon thine ample bosom flung

Charms such as were her gift when the gray world was young!

Land of the West!—where naught is old

Or fading, but tradition hoary,—

Thy yet unwritten annals hold

Of many a daring deed the story!

Man’s might of arm hath here been tried,

And woman’s glorious strength of soul,—

When war’s fierce shout rang far and wide,

When vengeful foes at midnight stole

On slumbering innocence, and gave

Nor onset-shout nor warning word,

Nor nature’s strong appealings heard

From woman’s lips, to “spare and save

Her unsuspecting little one,

Her only child—her son! her son!”

Unheard the supplicating tone,

Which ends in now a shriek, and now a deep death-groan!

Land of the West!—green forest-land!

Thine early day for deeds is famed

Which in historic page shall stand

Till bravery is no longer named.

Thine early day!—it nursed a band

Of men who ne’er their lineage shamed:

The iron-nerved, the bravely good,

Who neither spared nor lavished blood,—

Aye ready, morn, or night, or noon;

Fleet in the race, firm in the field,

Their sinewy arms their only shield,—

Courage to Death alone to yield;

The men of Daniel Boon!

Their dwelling-place the “good green-wood”;

Their favorite haunts the long arcade,

The murmuring and majestic flood,

The deep and solemn shade,

Where to them came the word of God,

When storm and darkness were abroad,

Breathed in the thunder’s voice aloud,

And writ in lightning on the cloud.

And thus they lived: the dead leaves oft,

Heaped by the playful winds, their bed;

Nor wished they couch more warm or soft,

Nor pillow for the head

Other than fitting root or stone,

With the scant wood-moss overgrown.

Heroic band! But they have passed,

As pass the stars at rise of sun,

Melting into the ocean vast

Of Time, and sinking, one by one;

Yet lingering here and there a few,

As if to take a last, long view

Of the domain they won in strife

With foes who battled to the knife.

Peace unto those that sleep beneath us!

All honor to the few that yet do linger with us!

Land of the West!—thine early prime

Fades in the flight of hurrying Time;

Thy noble forests fall, as sweep

Europa’s myriads o’er the deep;

And thy broad plains, with welcome warm,

Receive the onward-pressing swarm:

On mountain-height, in lowly vale,

By quiet lake, or gliding river,—

Wherever sweeps the chainless gale,

Onward sweep they, and forever.

Oh, may they come with hearts that ne’er

Can bend a tyrant’s chain to wear;

With souls that would indignant turn,

And proud oppression’s minions spurn;

With nerves of steel, and words of flame,

To strike and sear the wretch who ’d bring our land to shame!

Land of the West!—beneath the Heaven

There ’s not a fairer, lovelier clime;

Nor one to which was ever given

A destiny more high, sublime.

From Alleghany’s base, to where

Our Western Andes prop the sky,—

The home of Freedom’s hearts is there,—

And o’er it Freedom’s eagles fly.

And here, should e’er Columbia’s land

Be rent with fierce intestine feud,

Shall Freedom’s latest cohorts stand,

Till Freedom’s eagles sink in blood,

And quenched are all the stars that now her banners stud!