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

Middle States: White Lake, N. Y.

White Lake

By Alfred Billings Street (1811–1881)

PURE as their parent springs! how bright

The silvery waters stretch away,

Reposing in the pleasant light

Of June’s most lovely day.

Curving around the eastern side,

Rich meadows slope their banks, to meet,

With fringe of grass and fern, the tide

Which sparkles at their feet.

Here, busy life attests that toil,

With its quick talisman, has made

Fields green and waving, from a soil

Of rude and savage shade.

While opposite, the forest lies

In giant shadow, black and deep,

Filling with leaves the circling sky,

And frowning in its sleep.

Amid this scene of light and gloom,

Nature with art links hand in hand,

Thick woods beside soft rural bloom,

As by a seer’s command.

Here, waves the grain; here, curls the smoke;

The orchard bends: there, wilds as dark

As when the hermit waters woke

Beneath the Indian’s bark.

Oft will the panther’s startling shriek

With the herd’s quiet lowings swell,

The wolfs fierce howl terrific break

Upon the sheepfold’s bell.

The ploughman sees the wind-winged deer

Dart from his covert to the wave,

And fearless in its mirror clear

His branching antlers lave.

Here, the green headlands seem to meet

So near, a fairy bridge might cross;

There, spreads the broad and limpid sheet

In smooth, unruffled gloss.

Arched by the thicket’s screening leaves,

A lilied harbor lurks below,

Where on the sand each ripple weaves

Its melting wreath of snow.

Hark! like an organ’s tones, the woods

To the light wind in murmurs wake,

The voice of the vast solitudes

Is speaking to the lake.

The fanning air-breath sweeps across

On its broad path of sparkles now,

Bends down the violet to the moss,

Then melts upon my brow.