Majestic river! in thy onward course,
Like that stream of myriad stars that flows
Across the glitt'ring heavens, thou divid'st
A continent in twain. For ages thou
Wert lost to men. Thy virgin waters flowed
Peacefully on between the shores of thy
Fairy-like isles, gently lapping the base
Of the o'erhanging rocks that stood like stern
Sentinels guarding thee.
None knew of all
The grand impenetrable forests which
Lined thy northern shores, stretching far beyond
The horizon to meet the Rocky Range,
And the interminable plains,
Where the deer and buffalo roamed at will,
And the wild horse reveled in its freedom.
Then the red man was a stranger to thee;
And when he first built his rude hut in thy
Forest glades, and planted his miniature
Fields of maize, and skimmed thy waters from shore
To shore in his bark canoe, he did not
Disturb the venerable solitude
That reigned o'er all supreme.
Now, proud river,
Thy pristine beauty has fled. Thy trackless
Forests of tow'ring pines, for centuries
The home of Æolus, are felled, struck down
By civilization's onward tread.
Thy billowy plains by the ploughman's share
Are rudely torn, while the scream of the leaping
Engine, rushing on o'er its iron track,
Has caused the deer and antelope to flee
To the distant Sierra's fastnesses.
Even the red man has dwindled and fled
Affrighted; and where he roamed free as air,
The ever-aggressive white man has reared
His home, and towns and cities line thy shores.
Thou couldst not withstand the onward course
Of Christian civilization; for God
Destined thy rich valleys to be the home
Of his people; and on thy once placid
Waters, where the white swan and mallard dipped
Their glossy heads beneath thy sparkling waves,
Float the argosies of a mighty nation.