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Lake Poems

Table of Contents

  1. Lake Ontario by Elizabeth Ellet
  2. Morning View of Lake Michigan by Ellen P. Allerton
  3. By an Inland Lake by William Stanley Braithwaite
  4. Huron by Edith Franklin Wyatt
  5. Lake Winds by Edith Franklin Wyatt
  6. The Lake of Killarney by Hannah Flagg Gould
  7. Morning on Lake Winnipiseogee by Thaddeus Pomeroy Cressey
  8. Perry's Victory on Lake Erie by James Gates Percival
  9. By Lake Champlain by Hilda Conkling
  10. The Lake by Hilda Conkling

  1. Lake Ontario

    by Elizabeth Ellet

    Deep thoughts o'ershade my spirit while I gaze
    Upon the blue depths of thy mighty breast:
    Thy glassy face is bright with sunset rays,
    And thy far-stretching waters are at rest,
    Save the small wave that on thy margin plays,
    Lifting to summer airs its flashing crest;
    While the fleet hues across thy surface driven,
    Mingle afar in the embrace of heaven.

    Thy smile is glorious when the morning's spring
    Gives half its glowing beauty to the deep;
    When the dusk swallow dips his drooping wing,
    And the gay winds that o'er thy bosom sweep,
    Tribute from dewy woods and violets bring,
    Thy restless billows in their gifts to steep.
    Thou'rt beautiful when evening moonbeams shine,
    And the soft hour of night and stars is thine.

    Thou hast thy tempests, too; the lightning's home
    Is near thee, though unseen; thy peaceful shore,
    When storms have lash'd these waters into foam,
    Echoes full oft the pealing thunder's roar.
    Thou hast dark trophies: the unhonour'd tomb
    Of those now sought and wept on earth no more:
    Full many a goodly form, the loved and brave,
    Lies whelm'd and still beneath thy sullen wave.

    The world was young with thee; this swelling flood
    As proudly swell'd, as purely met the sky,
    When sound of life roused not the ancient wood,
    Save the wild eagle's scream, or panther's cry.
    Here on this verdant bank the savage stood,
    And shook his dart and battle-axe on high,
    While hues of slaughter tinged thy billows blue,
    As deeper and more close the conflict grew.

    Here, too, at early morn, the hunter's song
    Was heard from wooded isle and grassy glade;
    And here at eve, these cluster'd bowers among,
    The low, sweet carol of the Indian maid,
    Chiding the slumbering breeze and shadows long,
    That kept her lingering lover from the shade:
    While, scarcely seen, thy willing waters o'er,
    Sped the light bark that bore him to the shore.

    Those scenes are past. The spirit of changing years
    Has breathed on all around save thee alone.
    More faintly the receding woodland hears
    Thy voice, once full and joyous as its own.
    Nations have gone from earth, nor trace appears
    To tell their tale—forgotten or unknown.
    Yet here, unchanged, untamed, thy waters lie,
    Azure, and clear, and boundless as the sky.

  2. Morning View of Lake Michigan

    by Ellen P. Allerton

    Here on this rugged bluff I stand alone
    And look out on the waters. Could I tell—
    Which I cannot—all that I see and feel;
    Could I but give the swelling thoughts a tone
    That press up to my lips—a song so sweet,
    So thrilling in its tuneful harmonies,
    Should send out on the air its rythmic beat,
    That heedless wights should pause amid the street,
    And listen with bowed heads and tearful eyes.

    My eyes are wet. The beauty of the lake
    At this still morning hour, draped in its veil
    Of dreamy mist so soft, transluscent, pale;
    Its music, as the blue waves gently break,
    Move me to tears. Yet am I all alone;
    No sympathetic glances kindle mine,
    No answering eye, where kindred feelings shine,
    Another heart interprets to my own.

    Ah, well! Here are the softly gleaming waves,
    Here are the gold-fringed clouds, above, below,
    Which from yon heaven and from the waters glow;
    Here is sunshine, which my forehead laves,
    And there the white-winged ships go sailing by;
    The cool wind blows, and lightly lifts my hair.
    Can there be solitude amid a scene so fair?
    Can one be lonely with such company?

    Behind me lies the city, fast asleep,
    Save early workmen going to their toil
    With sounding tread. The long day's dusty moil
    Clanks not along the streets. The convent bell,
    Whose tones above the dreamers softly swell,
    Unheeded, troubles not their slumber deep.
    The sleeping city and pale blue lake,
    The convent bell, the low waves' ceaseless break,
    The morning mists—all these shall memory keep.

  3. By an Inland Lake

    by William Stanley Braithwaite

    Long drawn, the cool, green shadows
    Steal o'er the lake's warm breast,
    And the ancient silence follows
    The burning sun to rest.

    The calm of a thousand summers,
    And dreams of countless Junes,
    Return when the lake-wind murmurs
    Thro' golden, August noons.

  4. Huron

    by Edith Franklin Wyatt

    Oh, perfect beauty, grave and deep,
    And pulsing in the sapphire sky,
    Except in full-whelmed hours of sleep,
    Where else in living do you lie?
    Where else but in far tarns of sleep,
    Blue fire of beauty, proud and deep?

    From crystal keeps and bed-rock springs
    Cerulean the waters blow
    Where purple-furling Huron flings
    Past island pines her folds of snow:
    And proud and deep the welling foam
    Breathes cool the breath of my still home.

    The breath of my immortal home,
    Of perfect beauty here for me,
    Beyond the questing rivers' foam,
    Beyond the surging of the sea—
    Sheer, silent beauty proud and deep,
    As pulsing skies and perfect sleep.

  5. Lake Winds

    by Edith Franklin Wyatt

    Keen, fleet and cool, on your silver-breathed way,
    Whirling the c irrus-cloud, brushing the mire,
    Far down the roads of the night and the day,
    Sing me the name of my proudest desire.

    Midland wind, inland wind, buoying low,
    Flying on Michigan's gray-dappled deep,
    Swing me the strength and the splendor you know
    Once, ere the hour of my infinite sleep.

    Fling them but once to me-once let me go
    Straight to some goal through all mist or all mire,
    Knowing no thought but to live, as you blow,
    Free in the name of my proudest desire.

  6. The Lake of Killarney

    by Hannah Flagg Gould

    In Erin's verdant, ocean isle,
    A shining lake is seen,
    Where many an islet peers the while
    To stud the lake with green.

    And these are crowned with tree and flower,
    And vine, or ruins gray,
    That show where human art and power
    Have been, and past away.

    They're edged with grass, or fringing brake,
    Or moss, or beetling cliff;
    And, round between them, on the lake
    There dances many a skiff.

    The boatman's hardy hand propels
    His boat with varying oar,
    While stories wild and strange he tells,
    About the things of yore.

    And, if you touch that hand with gold
    Or silver, you shall find,
    A smoother tale was never told,
    Than he will soon unwind.

    But then no sign of secret doubt,
    About what may be said,
    From lip or eye must venture out,
    As this would snap the thread.

    For, though he may in truth believe
    The things he tells to you,
    Or not, 't is fit that you receive
    Each syllable as true.

    In sooth, the honest boatman seems
    A man sincere, and acts
    Like one, who, often telling dreams,
    Refines them into facts.

    He'll take you in his boat and row
    Till fairly from the shore;
    Then fast his nimble tongue will go,
    And slow the lazy oar.

    And there, in haste to let you know
    How much is known to him,
    He'll tell you what is hid below
    The water that you skim.

    For, how Killarney's lake arose,
    His sober lips protest,
    That, if a son of Erin knows,
    Himself must know the best.

    And having paid his holy priest
    For past and future sins,
    And lived a saint through lent and feast,
    The tale he thus begins:

    'You see that in this spacious cave
    There's now a mighty flood;
    But once, as you've a soul to save,
    'T was full of flesh and blood!

    'And now I row my trusty boat
    O'er heaps of human bones,
    That, by the waters where we float,
    Are hardened into stones!

    'For, here an ancient city shone
    In splendor, wealth, and pride;
    And that in power it stood alone,
    Can be by none denied.

    ''T was peopled by a noble clan
    Of brave and warlike men;
    If ever Erin had a man
    Of courage, it was then.

    ''T was governed by a mighty chief,
    The great O'Donaghue;
    And just to give him in the brief,
    A mighty tyrant, too!

    'He was a man of giant size,
    Of odd, but rich attire,
    With haughty bearing, and his eyes,—
    They flashed like living fire.

    'He often led his men to fight,
    And led them safely back;
    But left the foes, that lived in flight,
    With blood upon their track.

    'For when they saw his hordes advance,
    And knew him in the van,
    His very look was like a lance,
    To enter every man.

    'His eye was worth a thousand shafts,
    A thousand arms, his one!
    His will was like the wing that wafts
    The eagle to the sun!

    'And such the great O'Donaghue;
    And such the race of men,
    Whose like, if e'er creation knew,
    'T will never know again!

    'And all that mortals ever need
    This noble clan possessed;
    For they had all to clothe and feed,
    And give the body rest.

    'But, still they lacked one thing, and this,
    The burden of their song,
    Was what no living thing can miss,
    And live to miss it long.

    'And "water! water!" they would sing,
    And some for water call.
    They'd neither well, nor brook, nor spring,
    Within their city wall.

    'At length, without, the streams were dry
    That brightened vale and hill,
    And then, from thirsty mouths, the cry
    Was "water! water!" still.

    'There came a great magician there,
    A man of power and skill,
    Who had the gift to answer prayer,
    And do the suppliant's will.

    'To him in crowds the people came,
    As pilgrims to a shrine:
    Approaching in St. Patrick's name,
    The man of gifts divine.

    'And water, water, was the thing
    For which they humbly bowed,
    Entreating him the boon to bring
    From either earth or cloud.

    'But still he answered not their call;
    For in his searching sight,
    There was not one among them all
    Who asked that boon aright.

  7. Morning on Lake Winnipiseogee

    by Thaddeus Pomeroy Cressey

    I saw incoming morn with silent tread
    Enter the azure portals of the east,
    "The smile of the Great Spirit" wide out-spread
    With floods of golden light upon its breast;
    And from the fleeting shades of parting night
    Wake with the flush of blushing beauty bright.

    I saw the orient sun paint varied hues
    Of gold and crimson on the horizon's rim;
    Stars paled their light, as gleam on gleam arose
    And pierced the caverns now no longer dim,
    While in the sunlight transient visions fade
    That flecked with broken light the mountain glade.

    The dewy mists, that bathed the mountain's brow,
    Had kissed with lingering lips the flower-crowned height,
    Hung diamond drops upon each leafy bough,
    And, when the sunbeams met departed night,
    Then slowly rising into mist-cloud flake,
    They swept their shadows o'er the crystal lake.

    Then suddenly from out the fleecy cloud,
    A stately eagle rose with out-spread wing,
    And floated in the sunlight, calm and proud,
    His shrill-toned voice made echoing mountains ring;
    A thousand voices woke the sleeping hills,
    And gaily rang the lucid crystal rills.

    Among the hills and vales and islands green,
    Were waving ferns beneath the arching trees,
    And shafts of glimmering light, the hills between,
    And woodland choirs breathing sweet melodies;
    I heard a voice in every fountain's flow,
    All things were fair around, above, below.

  8. Perry's Victory on Lake Erie

    by James Gates Percival

    Bright was the morn,—the waveless bay
    Shone like a mirror to the sun;
    'Mid greenwood shades and meadows gay,
    The matin birds their lays begun:
    While swelling o'er the gloomy wood
    Was heard the faintly-echoed roar,—
    The dashing of the foaming flood,
    That beat on Erie's distant shore.

    The tawny wanderer of the wild
    Paddled his painted birch canoe,
    And, where the wave serenely smiled,
    Swift as the darting falcon, flew;
    He rowed along that peaceful bay,
    And glanced its polished surface o'er,
    Listening the billow far away,
    That rolled on Erie's lonely shore.

    What sounds awake my slumbering ear,
    What echoes o'er the waters come?
    It is the morning gun I hear,
    The rolling of the distant drum.
    Far o'er the bright illumined wave
    I mark the flash,—I hear the roar,
    That calls from sleep the slumbering brave,
    To fight on Erie's lonely shore.

    See how the starry banner floats,
    And sparkles in the morning ray:
    While sweetly swell the fife's gay notes
    In echoes o'er the gleaming bay:
    Flash follows flash, as through yon fleet
    Columbia's cannons loudly roar,
    And valiant tars the battle greet,
    That storms on Erie's echoing shore

    O, who can tell what deeds were done,
    When Britain's cross, on yonder wave,
    Sunk 'neath Columbia's dazzling sun,
    And met in Erie's flood its grave?
    Who tell the triumphs of that day,
    When, smiling at the cannon's roar,
    Our hero, 'mid the bloody fray,
    Conquered on Erie's echoing shore.

    Though many a wounded bosom bleeds
    For sire, for son, for lover dear,
    Yet Sorrow smiles amid her weeds,—
    Affliction dries her tender tear;
    Oh! she exclaims, with glowing pride,
    With ardent thoughts that wildly soar,
    My sire, my son, my lover died,
    Conquering on Erie's bloody shore.

    Long shall my country bless that day,
    When soared our Eagle to the skies;
    Long, long in triumph's bright array,
    That victory shall proudly rise:
    And when our country's lights are gone,
    And all its proudest days are o'er,
    How will her fading courage dawn,
    To think on Erie's bloody shore!

  9. By Lake Champlain

    by Hilda Conkling

    I was bare as a leaf
    And I felt the wind on my shoulder.
    The trees laughed
    When I picked up the sun in my fingers.
    The wind was chasing the waves,
    Tangling their white curls.
    "Willow trees," I said,
    "O willows,
    Look at your lake!
    Stop laughing at a little girl
    Who runs past your feet in the sand!"

  10. The Lake

    by Hilda Conkling

    The lake is solemn;
    Its smiles are gone.
    No swan, no birds
    To get relief from burdens and dust.
    Let me go make it glitter,
    Make its flowers sing and blow
    Into a little tune like a wind blowing
    Or a poem Keats thought of . . .

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