I would not even ask my heart to say
If I could love another land as well
As thee, my country, had I felt the spell
Of Italy at birth, or learned to obey
The charm of France, or England’s mighty sway.
I would not be so much an infidel
As once to dream, or fashion words to tell,
What land could hold my heart from thee away.
For like a law of nature in my blood,
America, I feel thy sovereignty,
And woven through my soul thy vital sign.
My life is but a wave and thou the flood;
I am a leaf and thou the mother-tree;
Nor should I be at all, were I not thine.
I love thine inland seas,
Thy groves of giant trees,
Thy rolling plains;
Thy rivers’ mighty sweep,
Thy mystic canyons deep,
Thy mountains wild and steep,
All thy domains;
Thy silver Eastern strands,
Thy Golden Gate that stands
Wide to the West;
Thy flowery Southland fair,
Thy sweet and crystal air,—
O land beyond compare,
Thee I love best!
THE ANCESTRAL DWELLINGS
Dear to my heart are the ancestral dwellings
Dearer than if they were haunted by ghosts of royal splendour;
They are simple enough to be great in their friendly dignity,—
Homes that were built by the brave beginners of a nation.
I love the old white farmhouses nestled in New England valleys,
Ample and long and low, with elm-trees feathering over them:
Borders of box in the yard, and lilacs, and old-fashioned roses,
A fan-light above the door, and little square panes in the windows,
The wood-shed piled with maple and birch and hickory ready for winter,
The gambrel-roof with its garret crowded with household relics,—
All the tokens of prudent thrift and the spirit of self-reliance.
I love the weather-beaten, shingled
houses that front the ocean;
They seem to grow out of the rocks, there is something indomitable
Their backs are bowed, and their sides are covered with lichens;
Soft in their colour as gray pearls, they are full of a patient courage.
Facing the briny wind on a lonely shore they stand undaunted,
While the thin blue pennant of smoke from the square-built chimney
Tells of a haven for man, with room for a hearth and a cradle.
I love the stately southern mansions
with their tall white columns,
They look through avenues of trees, over fields where the cotton is
I can see the flutter of white frocks along their shady porches,
Music and laughter float from the windows, the yards