It may not be, for though
these scenes are fair,
As fabled Arcady—the sylph and fay,
And all their gentle kindred, shun the air,
Where car and steamer make their stormy way.
Perchance some Cooper’s magic art may wake
The sleeping legends of this mighty vale,
And twine fond memories round the lawn and lake,
Where Warrior fought or Lover told his tale:
And when the Red Man’s form hath left these glades,
And memory’s moonlight o’er his story streams,
From their dim graves shall rise heroic shades,
And fill the fancy with romantic dreams.
Then, in the city’s gorgeous squares shall rise
The chiselled column to the admiring view—
To mark the spot where some stern Black Hawk lies,
Whom ages gone, our glorious grandsires slew!
[Illustration: The Indian Lovers]
Dim shadows these that come
at Fancy’s call—
Yet deeper scenes before the Patriot rise,
As fate’s stern prophet lifts the fearful pall,
And shows the future to his straining eyes.
Oh! shall that vision paint this glorious vale
With happy millions o’er its bosom spread—
Or ghastly scenes where battle taints the gale
With brother’s blood by brother’s weapon shed?
Away, ye phantom fears—the scene is fair,
Down the long vista of uncounted years;
Bright harvests smile, sweet meadows scent the air,
And peaceful plenty o’er the scene appears.
The village rings with labor’s jocund laugh,
The hoyden shout around the school-house door,
The old man’s voice, as bending o’er his staff,
He waxes valiant in the tales of yore:
Far tapering spires from teeming cities rise,
The sabbath bell comes stealing on the air,
A holy anthem seeks the bending skies,
And earth and heaven seem fondly blended there!
Aye—and beyond, where distance spreads its blue,
Down the unfolding vale of future time,
A glorious vision rises on the view,
And wakes the bosom with a hope sublime.
Majestic Stream! at dim Creation’s dawn,
Thou wert a witness of that glorious birth—
And thy proud waters still shall sweep the lawn
When Peace shall claim dominion of the earth.
Here in this vale for mighty empire made,
Perchance the glorious flag shall be unfurled,
And violence and wrong and ruin fade,
Before its conquering march around the world!
[Footnote A: We are told by the Geographers that the Missouri, which rises in the glaciers of the Rocky Mountains, is properly the head stream of the Mississippi, and it is thus regarded in these lines. In this view, the Mississippi is the longest river in the world.]