Fit cradle this—Majestic
Stream, for thee!
Nursed at the glacier’s foot—by tempests fed—
The lightning flashing o’er thy canopy,
And thunders pealing round thine infant bed—
The pious Indian marks thy mystic birth,
’Mid storm and cloud, and nature’s aspect wild—
And wondering, deems thee not a thing of earth,
But great Manitto’s fair and favored child.
Aye—and the mind, by inspiration taught,
Like nature’s pupil feels a Presence near,
Which bids the bosom tremble with the thought
That He who came from Teman hath been here![B]
What thronging fancies crowd
upon the soul,
As from these heights the Giant Stream we trace,
And wander with its waters as they roll
From hence, to their far ocean dwelling-place—
Marking its birth in this bleak frigid zone,
Its conquering march to yonder tropic shore,
The boundless valley which it makes its own,
With thousand tribute rivers as they pour!
No classic page its story to reveal;
No nymph, or naïad, sporting in its glades;
No banks encrimsoned with heroic steel;
And haunted yet by dim poetic shades—
Its annals linger in the eternal rock,
Hoary with centuries; in cataracts that sing
To the dull ear of ages; in the shock
Of plunging glaciers that madly fling,
The forest like a flight of spears, aloft:
In wooded vales that spread beyond the view;
In boundless prairies, blooming fair and soft;
In mantling vines that teem with clusters blue;
And as the sunny south upon us breathes—
In orange groves that scent the balmy air,
And tempt soft summer with its fragrant wreaths,
Throughout the year to be a dweller there.
These of the past their whispered
And fertile fancy with its wizard art,
May weave wild legends, as the seers of old
Made gods and heroes into being start.
Perchance some mystic mound may wake the spell:
A crumbled skull—a spear—a vase of clay
Within its bosom half the tale may tell—
And all the rest ’tis fancy’s gift to say.
Alas! that ruthless science in these days,
To its stern crucible hath brought at last,
The cherished shapes that all so fondly gaze
Upon us from the dim poetic past!
Else might these moonlit prairies show at dawn,
The dew-swept circle of the elfin dance—
These woodlands teem with sportive fay and faun—
These grottoes glimmer with sweet Echo’s glance.
Perchance a future Homer might have wrought
From out the scattered wreck of ages fled,
Some long lost Troy, where mighty heroes fought,
And made the earth re-echo with their tread!