Light-winged Smoke! Icarian bird, Melting thy pinions in thy upward flight; Lark without song, and messenger of dawn, Circling above the hamlets as thy nest; Or else, departing dream, and shadowy form Of midnight vision, gathering up thy skirts; By night star-veiling, and by day Darkening the light and blotting out the sun; Go thou, my incense, upward from this hearth, And ask the gods to pardon this clear flame.
With frontier strength ye stand your ground,
With grand content ye circle round,
Tumultuous silence for all sound,
Ye distant nursery of rills,
Monadnock, and the Peterborough hills;—
Firm argument that never stirs,
Outcircling the philosophers,—
Like some vast fleet
Sailing through rain and sleet,
Through winter's cold and summer's heat;
Still holding on upon your high emprise,
Until ye find a shore amid the skies;
Not skulking close to land,
With cargo contraband;
For they who sent a venture out by ye
Have set the Sun to see
Ships of the line, each one,
Ye westward run,
Which cluster in your shrouds,
Always before the gale,
Under a press of sail,
With weight of metal all untold;—
I seem to feel ye in my firm seat here,
Immeasurable depth of hold,
And breadth of beam, and length of running gear.
Methinks ye take luxurious pleasure
In your novel western leisure;
So cool your brows and freshly blue,
As Time had nought for ye to do;
For ye lie at your length,
An unappropriated strength,
Unhewn primeval timber
For knees so stiff, for masts so limber,
The stock of which new earths are made,
One day to be our western trade,
Fit for the stanchions of a world
Which through the seas of space is hurled.
While we enjoy a lingering ray,
Ye still o'ertop the western day,
Reposing yonder on God's croft,
Like solid stacks of hay.
So bold a line as ne'er was writ
On any page by human wit;
The forest glows as if
An enemy's camp-fires shone
Along the horizon,
Or the day's funeral pyre
Were lighted there;
Edged with silver and with gold,
The clouds hang o'er in damask fold,
And with fresh depth of amber light
The west is dight,
Where still a few rays slant,
That even Heaven seems extravagant.
Lies on the horizon's sill
Like a child's toy left overnight,
And other duds to left and right;
On the earth's edge, mountains and trees
Stand as they were on air graven,
Or as the vessels in a haven
Await the morning breeze.
I fancy even
Through your defiles windeth the way to heaven;
And yonder still, in spite of history's page,
Linger the golden and the silver age;
Upon the laboring gale
The news of future centuries is brought,
And of new dynasties of thought,
From your remotest vale.
But special I remember thee,
Wachusett, who like me
Standest alone without society.
Thy far blue eye,
A remnant of the sky,
Seen through the clearing of the gorge,
Or from the windows of the forge,
Doth leaven all it passes by.
Nothing is true,
But stands 'tween me and you,
Thou western pioneer,
Who know'st not shame nor fear,
By venturous spirit driven
Under the eaves of heaven,
And canst expand thee there,
And breathe enough of air.
Even beyond the West
Into unclouded tracts,
Without a pilgrim's axe,
Cleaving thy road on high
With thy well-tempered brow,
And mak'st thyself a clearing in the sky.
Upholding heaven, holding down earth,
Thy pastime from thy birth,
Not steadied by the one, nor leaning on the other;—
May I approve myself thy worthy brother!