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

Middle States: Wyoming, Pa.


By Fitz-Greene Halleck (1790–1867)


THOU com’st, in beauty, on my gaze at last,

“On Susquehanna’s side, fair Wyoming!”

Image of many a dream, in hours long past,

When life was in its bud and blossoming,

And waters, gushing from the fountain spring

Of pure enthusiast thought, dimmed my young eyes,

As by the poet borne, on unseen wing,

I breathed, in fancy, ’neath thy cloudless skies,

The summer’s air, and heard her echoed harmonies.

I then but dreamed: thou art before me now,

In life, a vision of the brain no more.

I ’ve stood upon the wooded mountain’s brow,

That beetles high thy lovely valley o’er;

And now, where winds thy river’s greenest shore,

Within a bower of sycamores am laid;

And winds, as soft and sweet as ever bore

The fragrance of wild-flowers through sun and shade,

Are singing in the trees, whose low boughs press my head.

Nature hath made thee lovelier than the power

Even of Campbell’s pen hath pictured: he

Had woven, had he gazed one sunny hour

Upon thy smiling vale, its scenery

With more of truth, and made each rock and tree

Known like old friends, and greeted from afar:

And there are tales of sad reality,

In the dark legends of thy border war,

With woes of deeper tint than his own Gertrude’s are.

But where are they, the beings of the mind,

The bard’s creations, moulded not of clay,

Hearts to strange bliss and suffering assigned,—

Young Gertrude, Albert, Waldegrave,—where are they?

We need not ask. The people of to-day

Appear good, honest, quiet men enough,

And hospitable too,—for ready pay;

With manners like their roads, a little rough,

And hands whose grasp is warm and welcoming, though tough.


There is a woman, widowed, gray, and old,

Who tells you where the foot of Battle stepped

Upon their day of massacre. She told

Its tale, and pointed to the spot, and wept,

Whereon her father and five brothers slept

Shroudless, the bright-dreamed slumbers of the brave,

When all the land a funeral mourning kept.

And there wild laurels, planted on the grave

By Nature’s hand, in air their pale red blossoms wave.

And on the margin of yon orchard hill

Are marks where timeworn battlements have been,

And in the tall grass traces linger still

Of “arrowy frieze and wedged ravelin.”

Five hundred of her brave that valley green

Trod on the morn in soldier-spirit gay;

But twenty lived to tell the noonday scene,—

And where are now the twenty? Passed away.

Has Death no triumph-hours, save on the battle-day?