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How sweet it was by good camp-fire,
When summer's bloom was ripe, to lie
With upturned faces to the sky,
And talk the night away or drowse,
Be sung to sleep, and dreaming wake
To view the moonlight on the lake
From couch soft spread with green spruce boughs!
For we were on the topmost spire;
The mountains near indeed were high,
But that whereon we lay was higher
Than all, save where the Northern Star
Looks down on Washington's gray dome,
Or, turning to the westward far,
The giant frame of Lafayette
With Cardigan against him set
Betrays the old man's mountain home.
How sweet it was to gaze for miles
Upon the lakes' unnumbered isles,
Along whose shores a silver rim
Of dimpled light was seen to swim,
And dance in circling wreaths of smiles!
On either shore a mountain frowned,
Old Belknap to the south, and clear
In sharp relief, because so near,
The well-known shape of Ossipee,
With many a village sleeping round,
Whose tall white steeples we could see
Above the lowland hill and tree.
Then farther on, where Wolfboro' waits
Beside the lake's most eastern gates,
Beyond the distant speck-like town
Rose, like an island from the waves,
The long low slopes of Copple Crown.
The waves! Indeed, we saw the sea,
Though eighty miles of land between.
Yea, in the middle of that night
A narrow streak of dazzling light
Lay curved on the horizon's rim
Far to the east where ocean laves
The shores of Casco clothed in green;
As if far off a flood of gold
In vessel of dark bronze were seen,
A glittering mass of molten gold
More than the spacious cup could hold,
To rise above and kiss the brim;
So high that if it higher were,
We know the very slightest stir
Would cast it down all overflowed.
The mountains round in masses lay
Like huge leviathans asleep,
Adown whose sides the black of night
Crouched like a coward from the light
All hiding in its caverns deep;
Where yet one gleam, a beacon shone
Like lost star wandering from its way,
One light alone in you sweet vale
Which Osceola frowns upon,
Forever lovely Waterville,
Set in the green of many a hill,
Whose six cascades in ripples fall
Upon the velvety moss-grown stone,
Like joyous laughter's ringing tone
Or sporting childhood's merry call.
Up rose the golden morning star,
Brilliant and wonderfully large,
Above the peak of dim Kiarsarge,
And paused as if for breath, and stood
Upon its brow as if he were
Again the mighty Jupiter,
The king of all of human blood
Of all the teeming earth, and even
Of all the starry gods afar
Sleeping upon the breast of heaven.
Then told a member of our band
A story of enchanted land,
A tale so sweet of Eastern clime,
So rich and dreamy, sad and strange,
I dreaming, it a wider range
Of dreamland sought, and in due time
Forgot the morning star and lake,
And peaceful slept; nor did I wake
Till roused at length to view the dawn
Creeping up from the sea on beams
Of pale green light which paled the stars,
Save Jupiter and fiery Mars.
The pale green light to pale red turned,
Which lay great banks of mist upon.
The pale red soon a crimson burned,
And spread in one great fiery sea
From Washington to Ossipee,
And bathed the mountains set between -
Some distant far, some nearer seen -
With dark red light which fell in streams
All centring from a brighter spot
Behind Pequawket's shoulders gray,
Where the new sun in secret lay,
We knew, although we saw him not,
How fair the many lakes that slept,
Spread warm with blankets wove with mist!
No stray beam to their valleys crept,
Lifted the coverlet and kissed.
Deep nestled 'mid the softest shade,
They lay like half-hid amethyst.
Toward the north we turned. Arrayed
Like some vast host the mountains stood
Covered with patriarchal wood,
And rose to sunlight, grade on grade,
Peak after peak, while all below,
Where slept their bases in the vale,
Was shielded as in jet-black mail:
Darkness impalpable as woe.
But now, behold that first rich gleam
Between Kiarsarge and Doublehead!
The great sun poured a blinding stream
Of light upon our mountain home,
And every lofty crag and dome,
On mighty Washington whose brow
Encircled was by wreaths of cloud,
On lone Chocorua endowed
With that wild legend, it is said
The only one remaining now
Of all the many Indian tales
That should have filled these hills and vales.
How waked the world from its long sleep!
How did the misty coverings creep
From every little pond, and rise
To join their sisters in the skies!
How fresh the green the valley through,
Sparkling with myriad drops of dew!
How clear the towns for many a mile
Where darkness only lay before!
The lake! I wonder now no more
The Indian almost worshipped it.
There is no earthly thing more fit
For one to call "the Spirit's Smile."
O glorious mom in mountain land!
O glorious sun upon the hills!
The bare remembrance of thee thrills
My frame all through from foot to hand.
Pushing aside the fleecy robe
Of courtly hue that graced thy bed,
And mounting unaccompanied,
The great sole monarch of the globe,
I half believe I see a band
Far on the Southern mountains' crest,
In ancient Manco's blessed land,
On Andes' plains with brown bared breast,
Bowing in homage to thy flame,
And muttering low great Inti's name.
Upon my knees with them I fall,
And kiss my hand to thee; adore,
As never I have done before,
The One who made thee, me, and all.
E. F. F.
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