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

New England: Wachusett, the Mountain, Mass.


By John Greenleaf Whittier (1807–1892)

Monadnock from Wachuset

I WOULD I were a painter, for the sake

Of a sweet picture, and of her who led,

A fitting guide, with reverential tread,

Into that mountain mystery. First a lake

Tinted with sunset; next the wavy lines

Of far receding hills; and yet more far

Monadnock lifting from his night of pines

His rosy forehead to the evening star.

Beside us, purple-zoned, Wachusett laid

His head against the West, whose warm light made

His aureole; and o’er him, sharp and clear,

Like a shaft of lightning in mid-launching stayed,

A single level cloud-line, shone upon

By the fierce glances of the sunken sun,

Menaced the darkness with its golden spear!

So twilight deepened round us. Still and black

The great woods climbed the mountain at our back;

And on their skirts, where yet the lingering day

On the shorn greenness of the clearing lay,

The brown old farm-house like a bird’s-nest hung.

With home-life sounds the desert air was stirred:

The bleat of sheep along the hill we heard,

The bucket plashing in the cool, sweet well,

The pasture-bars that clattered as they fell;

Dogs barked, fowls fluttered, cattle lowed; the gate

Of the barnyard creaked beneath the merry weight

Of sun-brown children, listening, while they swung,

The welcome sound of supper-call to hear;

And down the shadowy lane, in tinklings clear,

The pastoral curfew of the cow-bell rung.

Thus soothed and pleased, our backward path we took,

Praising the farmer’s home. He only spake,

Looking into the sunset o’er the lake,

Like one to whom the far-off is most near:

“Yes, most folks think it has a pleasant look;

I love it for my good old mother’s sake,

Who lived and died here in the peace of God!”

The lesson of his words we pondered o’er,

As silently we turned the eastern flank

Of the mountain, where its shadow deepest sank,

Doubling the night along our rugged road:

We felt that man was more than his abode,—

The inward life than Nature’s raiment more;

And the warm sky, the sundown-tinted hill,

The forest and the lake, seemed dwarfed and dim

Before the saintly soul, whose human will

Meekly in the Eternal footsteps trod,

Making her homely toil and household ways

An earthly echo of the song of praise

Swelling from angel lips and harps of seraphim.