Read at “The Laurels,” on the Merrimac, 6th month, 1865.
The roll of drums and the bugle’s wailing
Vex the air of our vales-no more;
The spear is beaten to hooks of pruning,
The share is the sword the soldier wore!
Sing soft, sing low, our lowland river,
Under thy banks of laurel bloom;
Softly and sweet, as the hour beseemeth,
Sing us the songs of peace and home.
Let all the tenderer voices of nature
Temper the triumph and chasten mirth,
Full of the infinite love and pity
For fallen martyr and darkened hearth.
But to Him who gives us beauty for ashes,
And the oil of joy for mourning long,
Let thy hills give thanks, and all thy waters
Break into jubilant waves of song!
Bring us the airs of hills and forests,
The sweet aroma of birch and pine,
Give us a waft of the north-wind laden
With sweethrier odors and breath of kine!
Bring us the purple of mountain sunsets,
Shadows of clouds that rake the hills,
The green repose of thy Plymouth meadows,
The gleam and ripple of Campton rills.
Lead us away in shadow and sunshine,
Slaves of fancy, through all thy miles,
The winding ways of Pemigewasset,
And Winnipesaukee’s hundred isles.
Shatter in sunshine over thy ledges,
Laugh in thy plunges from fall to fall;
Play with thy fringes of elms, and darken
Under the shade of the mountain wall.
The cradle-song of thy hillside fountains
Here in thy glory and strength repeat;
Give us a taste of thy upland music,
Show us the dance of thy silver feet.
Into thy dutiful life of uses
Pour the music and weave the flowers;
With the song of birds and bloom of meadows
Lighten and gladden thy heart and ours.
Sing on! bring down, O lowland river,
The joy of the hills to the waiting sea;
The wealth of the vales, the pomp of mountains,
The breath of the woodlands, bear with thee.
Here, in the calm of thy seaward, valley,
Mirth and labor shall hold their truce;
Dance of water and mill of grinding,
Both are beauty and both are use.
Type of the Northland’s strength and glory,
Pride and hope of our home and race,–
Freedom lending to rugged labor
Tints of beauty and lines of grace.
Once again, O beautiful river,
Hear our greetings and take our thanks;
Hither we come, as Eastern pilgrims
Throng to the Jordan’s sacred banks.
For though by the Master’s feet untrodden,
Though never His word has stilled thy waves,
Well for us may thy shores be holy,
With Christian altars and saintly graves.
And well may we own thy hint and token
Of fairer valleys and streams than these,
Where the rivers of God are full of water,
And full of sap are His healing trees!