O mighty river, triumphing to the sea,
Strong, calm, and solemn as thy mountains be!
Poets have sung thy ever-living power,
Thy wintry day, and summer sunset hour;
Have told how rich thou art, how broad, how deep;
What commerce thine, how many myriads reap
The harvest of thy waters. They have sung
Thy moony nights, when every shadow flung
From cliff or pine is peopled with dim ghosts
Of settlers, old-world fairies, or the hosts
Of savage warriors that once plowed thy waves—
Now hurrying to the dance from hidden graves;
The waving outline of thy wooded mountains,
Thy populous towns that stretch from forest fountains
On either side, far to the salty main,
Like golden coins alternate on a chain.
Thou pathway of the empire of the North,
Thy praises through the earth have traveled forth!
I hear thee praised as one who hears the shout
That follows when a hero from the rout
Of battle issues: "Lo, how brave is he,
How noble, proud, and beautiful!" But she
Who knows him best: "How tender!" So thou art
The river of love to me!
—Heart of my heart,
Dear love and bride is it not so indeed?—
Among your treasures keep this new-pluckt reed.
Richard Watson Gilder, The Poems of Richard Watson Gilder, 1908