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I. The Merrimac

John Greenleaf Whittier (1807–1892). The Poetical Works in Four Volumes. 1892.

Narrative and Legendary Poems

The Bridal of Pennacook
I. The Merrimac

O CHILD of that white-crested mountain whose springs

Gush forth in the shade of the cliff-eagle’s wings,

Down whose slopes to the lowlands thy wild waters shine,

Leaping gray walls of rock, flashing through the dwarf pine;

From that cloud-curtained cradle so cold and so lone,

From the arms of that wintry-locked mother of stone,

By hills hung with forests, through vales wide and free,

Thy mountain-born brightness glanced down to the sea!

No bridge arched thy waters save that where the trees

Stretched their long arms above thee and kissed in the breeze:

No sound save the lapse of the waves on thy shores,

The plunging of otters, the light dip of oars.

Green-tufted, oak-shaded, by Amoskeag’s fall

Thy twin Uncanoonucs rose stately and tall,

Thy Nashua meadows lay green and unshorn,

And the hills of Pentucket were tasselled with corn.

But thy Pennacook valley was fairer than these,

And greener its grasses and taller its trees,

Ere the sound of an axe in the forest had rung,

Or the mower his scythe in the meadows had swung.

In their sheltered repose looking out from the wood

The bark-builded wigwams of Pennacook stood;

There glided the corn-dance, the council-fire shone,

And against the red war-post the hatchet was thrown.

There the old smoked in silence their pipes, and the young

To the pike and the white-perch their baited lines flung;

There the boy shaped his arrows, and there the shy maid

Wove her many-hued baskets and bright wampum braid.

O Stream of the Mountains! if answer of thine

Could rise from thy waters to question of mine,

Methinks through the din of thy thronged banks a moan

Of sorrow would swell for the days which have gone.

Not for thee the dull jar of the loom and the wheel,

The gliding of shuttles, the ringing of steel;

But that old voice of waters, of bird and of breeze,

The dip of the wild-fowl, the rustling of trees!