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

Middle States: West Point, N. Y.

West Point

By Henry Theodore Tuckerman (1813–1871)

WILD umbrage far around me clings

To breezy knoll and hushed ravine,

And o’er each rocky headland flings

Its mantle of refreshing green.

The echoes that so boldly rung

When cannon flashed from steep to steep,

And Freedom’s airy challenge flung,

In each romantic valley sleep.

His counsels here our chieftain breathed,

Here roved his mild, undaunted eye,

When yon lone fort, with thickets wreathed,

Held captive Britain’s gallant spy.

Fit home to rear a nation’s youth

By self-control to nerve the will,

Through knowledge gain expansive truth,

And with high aims life’s circle fill.

How grateful is the sudden change

From arid pavements to the grass,

From narrow streets that thousands range,

To meadows where June’s zephyrs pass!

Beneath the cliffs the river steals

In darksome eddies to the shore,

But midway every sail reveals

Reflected on its crystal floor.

In tranquil mood the cattle walk

Along the verdant marge to feed,

While poised upon the mullein stalk

The chirping redbird picks the seed.

Low murmurs in the foliage bred,

The clear horizon’s azure line,

Fresh turf elastic to the tread,

And leafy canopies are thine.

White fleecy clouds move slowly by,

How cool their shadows fall to-day!

A moment on the hills they lie,

And then like spirits glide away.

Amid the herbage, yesternight,

His web the cunning spider threw,

And now, as sparkling diamonds bright,

It glistens with the pendent dew.

Gay butterflies dart on and sink

O’er the sweet blossoms of the pea,

And from the clover’s globe of pink

Contented hums the downy bee.

In all this varied beauty glows

Deep meaning for the thoughtful heart,

As it were fain to teach repose,

And lofty confidence impart.

How vivid to my fancy now,

Uprise the forms that life redeem!

The ardent eye, the open brow,

And tender smile beside me seem.

For Nature’s presence gathers back

The deeds that grace, the loves that cheer,

And as her holy steps we track,

Hope’s rainbow breaks through sorrow’s tear.