Joseph Rodman Drake

(1795-1820 / United States)

Fragments


I

Tuscara! thou art lovely now,
Thy woods, that frown'd in sullen strength
Like plumage on a giant's brow,
Have bowed their massy pride at length.
The rustling maize is green around,
The sheep is in the Congar's bed;
And clear the ploughman's whistlings sound
Where war-whoop's pealed o'er mangled dead.
Fair cots around thy breast are set,
Like pearls upon a coronet;
And in Aluga's vale below
The gilded grain is moving slow
Like yellow moonlight on the sea,
Where waves are swelling peacefully;
As beauty's breast, when quiet dreams
Come tranquilly and gently by;
When all she loves and hopes for seems
To float in smiles before her eye.

II

And hast thou lost the grandeur rude
That made me breathless, when at first
Upon my infant sight you burst,
The monarch of the solitude?
No; there is yet thy turret rock,
The watch-tower of the skies, the lair
Of Indian Gods, who, in the shock
Of bursting thunders, slumbered there;
And trim thy bosom is arrayed
In labour's green and glittering vest,
And yet thy forest locks of shade
Shake stormy on that turret crest.
Still hast thou left the rocks, the floods,
And nature is the loveliest then,
When first amid her caves and woods
She feels the busy tread of men;
When every tree, and bush, and flower,
Springs wildly in its native grace;
Ere art exerts her boasted power,
That brightened only to deface.

III

Yes! thou art lovelier now than ever;
How sweet 'twould be, when all the air
In moonlight swims, along thy river
To couch upon the grass, and hear
Niagara's everlasting voice,
Far in the deep blue west away;
That dreaming and poetic noise
We mark not in the glare of day,
Oh! how unlike its torrent-cry,
When o'er the brink the tide is driven,
As if the vast and sheeted sky
In thunder fell from heaven.

IV

Were I but there, the daylight fled,
With that smooth air, the stream, the sky,
And lying on that minstrel bed
Of nature's own embroidery
With those long tearful willows o'er me,
That weeping fount, that solemn light,
With scenes of sighing tales before me,
And one green, maiden grave in sight;
How mournfully the strain would rise
Of that true maid, whose fate can yet
Draw rainy tears from stubborn eyes;
From lids that ne'er before were wet.
She lies not here, but that green grave
Is sacred from the plough -- and flowers,
Snow-drops, and valley-lilies, wave
Amid the grass; and other showers
Than those of heaven have fallen there.

Submitted: Friday, January 03, 2003

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