« PreviousContinue »
Of One who bore it, making it divine
The heirship of an unknown destiny,
A man more precious than the gold of Ophir.
Of the eternal beauty which fulfils
The sole necessity of Earth and Heaven!
AMONG THE HILLS.
For weeks the clouds had raked the hills
And vexed the vales with raining,
And all the brooks complaining.
At last, a sudden night-storm tore
The mountain veils asunder,
The besom of the thunder.
165 Through Sandwich notch the west-wind sang
Good morrow to the cotter;
Of shadow pierced the water.
165. Sandwich Notch, Chocorua Mountain, Ossipee Lake and the Bearcamp River, are all striking features of the scenery in that part of New Hampshire which lies just at the entrance of the White Mountain region. Many of Whittier's most graceful poems are drawn from the suggestions of this country, where he has been wont to spend his summer months of late, and a mount. ain near West Ossipee has received his name.
Above his broad lake Ossipee, 170 Once more the sunshine wearing,
Stooped, tracing on that silver shield
His grim armorial bearing.
Clear drawn against the hard blue sky
The peaks had winter's keenness; 175 And, close on autumn's frost, the vales
Had more than June's fresh greenness.
Again the sodden forest floors
With golden lights were checkered,
Once more rejoicing leaves in wind 180 And sunshine danced and flickered.
It was as if the summer's late
Atoning for its sadness
To end its days in gladness.
185 I call to mind those banded vales
Of shadow and of shining,
I drove in day's declining.
We held our sideling way above 190 The river's whitening shallows,
By homesteads old, with wide-flung barns
Swept through and through by swallows,
By maple orchards, belts of pine
And larches climbing darkly 195 The mountain slopes, and, over all,
The great peaks rising starkly.
You should have seen that long hill-range
With gaps of brightness riven, —
The purpling lights of heaven,
Rivers of gold-mist flowing down
From far celestial fountains,
Beyond the wall of mountains!
205 We paused at last where home-bound cowe
Brought down the pasture's treasure,
Beat out a harvest measure.
We heard the night-hawk's sullen plunge,
The crow his tree-mates calling:
About our feet were falling,
And through them smote the level sun
In broken lines of splendor, 215 Touched the gray rocks and made the green
Of the shorn grass more tender.
The maples bending o'er the gate,
Their arch of leaves just tinted
Of coming autumn hinted.
Keen white between the farm-house showed,
And smiled on porch and trellis,
That equals cot and palace.
225 And weaving garlands for her dog,
'Twixt chidings and caresses,
The sunshine from her
On either hand we saw the signs 230 Of fancy and of shrewdness,
Where taste had wound its arms of vines
Round thrift's uncomely rudeness.
The sun-brown farmer in his frock
Shook hands, and called to Mary: 235 Bare-armed, as Juno might, she came,
White-aproned from her dairy.
Her air, her smile, her motions, told
Of womanly completeness;
A music as of household songs 240
Was in her voice of sweetness.
Not beautiful in curve and line,
But something more and better,
Its spirit, not its letter; –
245 An inborn grace that nothing lacked
Of culture or appliance, –
The calm of self-reliance.
Before her queenly womanhood 250 How dared our hostess utter
The paltry errand of her need
To buy her fresh-churned butter?
She led the way with housewife pride,
Her goodly store disclosing, 255 Full tenderly the golden balls
With practised hands disposing.
Then, while along the western hills
We watched the changeful glory
Of sunset, on our homeward way, 260 I heard her simple story.
The early crickets sang; the stream
Plashed through my friend's narration :
Lost in my free translation.
265 " More wise," she said, “ than those who swarm
Our hills in middle summer,
To greet the early comer.
" From school and ball and rout she came, 270 The city's fair, pale daughter,
To drink the wine of mountain air
Beside the Bearcamp Water.
“ Her step grew firmer on the hills
That watch our homesteads over; 275 On cheek and lip, from summer fields,
She caught the bloom of clover.
" For health comes sparkling in the streams
From cool Chocorua stealing:
There's iron in our Northern winds; 280 Our pines are trees of healing.