Friday, December 17, 2010

A Poem from 1876: A Sunset at Longmont


We've journeyed through the mountains. There
they stand
Broad-based, majestic in a grand repose,
Some three leagues westward.
Longmont welcomes
And while we rest this balmy summer eve
At hospitable thresholds, all the sky,
As if to consecrate our holiday,
And make our precious memories more dear,
Puts on unwonted glory; and our eyes,
Like those of Moses in the mount, are smit
With sudden splendor. For the sinking sun,
Hidden, is not repressed, but pours its light
Upward and far aslant on flocks of cloud.
Along the clear horizon's narrow rim,
Down the great gulfs of everlasting rock,
O'er shining peaks, the distant Snowy Range,
And Long's high crown, while all the nearer hills
In tender shadow watch the miracle.
Spread to the right, and gleaming fold on fold,
Vermilion, saffron, pink, and pearly white,
The gorgeous banners of the clouds are flung,
Waving and tossing in resplendent surge,
Above yon belt of deep, delicious sky,
Whose liquid opal perfect, passionless,
Runs to a field of luminous emerald,
Broidered with marvellous fringe of crimson fire.
More southward, fleecy draperies touched with rose
Float on the air, and here and there droop low
Upon the shoulders of the purple peaks.
O'erhead the arrows of the hidden sun
Flash, now and then, on cliffs of ragged cloud;
And plumes of radiance, like strange tropic birds,
Flit through the open spaces of the blue.
High up amid the awful gaps of rock,
Between the ranges, a soft sea of bloom,—
The lustrous pollen of this sunset-flower,—
Throbs wave on wave against the granite shore.
Wondrous the billows of this golden mist,
Sweet, tender, lucent, as if purest dews
Of Paradise had washed the starry sheen
From heaven's choicest blossoms, and poured all
Into the porphyry basin of the mount,
A perfect incense to the unseen God.
Unasked we join the worship of the hour,
Breathless with indescribable applause.
The sacred spell of Beauty on us lies,
And power that dwells in Light's essential throne,
And Love in which all that is good is born.
The curtains of the glowing deep are drawn,
And through the vista, garlanded with gold,
O'er amethystine herbage, lawns of rose,
Pure streams where lilies of the angels blow,
Far toward the sightless glory of the Lord,
Our hearts are borne in measureless content,
Renewed and resting on the Infinite !

Horatio Nelson Powers

The poem above was found in the 1879 book "Poems of Places", edited by the famous poet, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.

The Famous Americans web site has this to say about Horatio Nelson Powers:

POWERS, Horatio Nelson, author, born in Amenia, Dutchess County, New York, 30 April, 1826. He was graduated at Union college in 1850, afterward attended the General theological seminary of the Protestant Episcopal church, New York city, and was ordained a deacon in Trinity church, New York. He was assistant at Lancaster, Pennsylvania, till April, 1857; rector of St. Luke's church, Davenport, Iowa, in 1857-'62; of St. John's church, Chicago, in 1868-'74; of Christ church, Bridgeport, Connecticut, in 1875-'84; and became rector of Christ church, Piermont, New York, in 1886. He was president of Griswold college in 1864-'7, and president of the Foundlings' home, Chicago, in 1872-'4. He received the degree of D. D. from Union college in 1867. Dr. Powers has published " Through the Year ' (Boston, 1875) ; " Poems, Early and Late " (Chicago, 1876) : and "Ten Years of Song" (Boston, 1887); and is one of the authors of " Homes and Haunts of our Elder Poets" (New York, 1881)


lalapapawawa said...

Wow, that makes Longmont sound pretty darn nice :-)
How did you find the poem?

Peter said...

Google just announced that they've indexed a ton of old books. A quick search for "Longmont" turned this up. I'm guessing that many around here already know about it but I thought it was interesting, especially since Longfellow selected it to be included in his book.