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In that soiled and sinful town
Crystal waves are smirched with brown;
Soon your airy white attire
Draggles in the murky mire;
You shall curdle green with scum,
And your happy voice grow dumb.
Ere you leap, I beg you look,
Pure and peerless mountain brook!
But, you answer, “I must go
Far through panting plains below;
I must rescue fainting wheat
Drooping in the brazen heat;
I must bear to parching corn
Vigor of this mountain morn;
I must bring from melting snows
Blood for blushes on the rose.
“I must come to aid of men
In yon far-off huddled den;
Rush where huts and hovels scowl
Over alleys close and foul.
I must make the factory hum,
Though it curdle me with scum.
I must cleanse the sink and sewer
Though they make myself impure.”
Mountain brook, wild mountain brook, Heaven had planned the course you took.
Though the blossom soon must fade,
Though the leaf soon hangs decayed;
Though the star must sink in gloom,
Though I soon shall seek the tomb;-
Let us go with gladsome look,
God's hand leading, mountain brook.
Saint Augustine, Saint Augustine,
What memories come to me,
While treading down your quaint old streets,
Along the tropic sea!
Where old Fort Marion rears his walls
Of mouldering shells and sand,
And green against an opal sky
The tall palmettos stand.
Here mocking-birds entrance the air
With keen and quivering notes,
And through the long gray Spanish moss
The red-bird's love-song floats.
Here orange gardens scent the breeze
With wreaths of starry blooms,
And citrons with the lemons hang
Like gold in emerald glooms.
Like Ponce de Leon, I have come,
Old town, forever young,
To find your bubbling Fount of Youth
For ages sought and sung.
Alas! I find you fresh and green,
Blithe in your old-time joy;
But man, for all his plaints and prayers,
Is only once a boy.
Vast, watery fields of slender waving grass;
Near by, a green and matted mangrove swamp;
Huge live-oak limbs where verdant creepers romp,
And orchids hang red flowers in a mass;
A river in a bramble-tangled pass,
Where trumpet blossoms swing in scarlet pomp;
Great bamboo thickets, oozy, dark and damp,
And starry lilies in a green morass.
White cranes on yonder cypress boughs alight,
An old gray heron stalks demure and slow;
Then gliding through the gray-mossed forest's night,
A water-snake dives in the dim bayou.
I wonder, as the reptile sinks from sight,
What monster shapes are swimming down below.
Far out to sea the home-bound seabirds wing,
Dim in brief twilight of the tropic day; Then, one by one, lights of the city swing
A sparkling semicircle round the bay.
Above me, from its broad-leaved sheath of green,
A great banana hangs its purple husk; Beside me, like a seraph half unseen,
An odorous oleander haunts the dusk.
The moon seems fallen from her throne on high,
So clear and close she comes to earthly view, And in the blue corolla of the sky
Canopus quivers like a drop of dew.
A-thrill with passion, pierced with bliss and pain,
A light guitar obeys a lover's hands,
And pours a fervid and heart-broken strain,
Now sweet, now bitter, from its trembling strands.
0, lovelorn youth, your dark-brown liquid eyes
Need sweet caresses of the dews of sleep: Your lips were made for laughter, not for sighs;
Youth comes to gladden, not to make you weep!