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THE FALLS OF THE PASSAIC.

BY

W

IRVING.

ix a wild tranquil vale, fringed with forests of green,
Where nature had fashioned a soft, sylvan scene,
The retreat of the ring-dove, the haunt of the deer,
Passaic in silence rolled gentle and clear.

No grandeur of prospect astonished the sight,
No abruptness sublime mingled awe with delight;
Here the wild flow'ret blossomed, the elm proudly waved,
And pure was the current the green bank that laved.

But the spirit that ruled o'er the thick tangled wood,
And deep in its gloom fixed his murky abode,
Who loved the wild scene that the whirlwinds deform,
And gloried in thunder, and lightning, and storm;

Ali flushed from the tumult of battle he came,
Where the red men encountered the children of flame,
While the noise of the war-whoop still rang in his ears,
And the fresh bleeding scalp as a trophy he bears ;

THE FALLS

OF

THE PASSAIC.

195

With a glance of disgust, he the landscape surveyed,
With its fragrant wild flowers, its wide-waving shade ;-
Where Passaic meanders through margins of green,
So transparent its waters, its surface serene.

He rived the green hills, the wild woods he laid low;
He taught the pure stream in rough channels to flow;
He rent the rude rock, the steep precipice gave,
And hurled down the chasm the thundering wave.

Countless moons have since rolled in the long lapse of

time-
Cultivation has softened those features sublime;
The axe of the white man has lightened the shade,
And dispelled the deep gloom of the thicketed glade.

But the stranger still gazes with wondering eye,
On the rocks rudely torn, and groves mounted on high ;
Still loves on the cliff's dizzy borders to roam,
Where the torrent leaps headlong embosomed in foam.

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Flow on for ever, in thy glorious robe
Of terror and of beauty. Yea, flow on
Unfathomed and resistless. God hath set
His rainbow on thy forehead : and the cloud
Mantled around thy feet. And he doth give
Thy voice of thunder, power to speak of Him
Eternally — bidding the lip of man
Keep silence--and upon thy rocky altar pour
Incense of awe-struck praise.

Ah! who can dare
To lift the insect-trump of earthly hope,
Or love, or sorrow – ’mid the peal sublime
Of thy tremendous hymn ? Even Ocean shrinks
Back from thy brotherhood : and all his waves
Retire abashed. For he doth sometimes seem
To sleep like a spent labourer-and recall
His wearied billows from their vexing play,
And lull them to a cradle calm: but thou,
With everlasting, undecaying tide,
Dost rest not, night or day. The morning stars,
When first they sang o'er young creation's birth,
Heard thy deep anthem; and those wrecking fires,

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That wait the archangel's signal to dissolve
This solid earth, shall find Jehovah's name
Graven, as with a thousand diamond spears,
On thine unending volume.

Every leaf,
That lifts itself within thy wide domain,
Doth gather greenness from thy living spray,
Yet tremble at the baptism. Lo!-yon birds
Do boldly venture near, and bathe their wing
Amid thy mist and foam. 'Tis meet for them,
To touch thy garment's hem, and lightly stir
The snowy leaflets of thy vapor-wreath,
For they may sport unharmed amid the cloud,
Or listen at the echoing gate of heaven,
Without reproof. But as for us, it seems
Scarce lawful, with our broken tones, to speak
Familiarly of thee. Methinks, to tint
Thy glorious features with our pencil's point,
Or woo thee to the tablet of a song,
Were profanation.

Thou dost make the soul
A wondering witness of thy majesty,
But as it presses with delirious joy
To pierce thy vestibule, dost chain its step,
And tame its rapture with the humbling view
Of its own nothingness, bidding it stand
In the dread presence of the Invisible,
As if to answer to its God through thee.

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(Sung at Plymouth, on the anniversary of the landing of our Fathers, 22d De

cember, 1820.)

I.
Wake your harp's music!- louder-higher,

And pour your strains along,
And smite again each quivering wire,

In all the pride of song!
Shout like those godlike men of old,

Who daring storm and foe,
On this blest soil their anthem rolled,

Two hundred years ago!

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