Saturday, October 25, 2014
Swannanoa, nymph of beauty,
I would woo thee in my rhyme,
Wildest, brightest, loveliest river
Of our sunny Southern clime!
Swannanoa, well they named thee,
In the mellow Indian tongue;
Beautiful thou art, most truly,
And right worthy to be sung.
I have stood by many a river,
Known to story and to song—
Ashley, Hudson, Susquehanna,
Fame to which may well belong;—
I have camp'd by the Ohio,
Trod Scioto's fertile banks,
Follow'd far the Juaniata,
In the wildest of her pranks,—
But thou reignest queen for ever,
Child of Appalachian hills,
Winning tribute as thou flowest,
From a thousand mountain-rills.
Thine is beauty, strength-begotten,
Mid the cloud-begirded peaks,
Where the patriarch of the mountains,
Heav 'nward for thy waters seeks.
Through the laurels and the beeches,
Bright thy silvery current shines,
Sleeping now in granite basins,
Overhung by trailing vines,
And anon careering onward,
In the maddest frolic-mood,
Waking, with thy sea-like voices,
Fairy echoes in the wood.
Peaceful sleep thy narrow valleys,
In the shadow of the hills,
And thy flower-enamelled border,
All the air with fragrance fills.
Wild luxuriance, generous tillage,
Here alternate meet the view,
Every turn, through all thy windings
Still revealing something new.
Where, O graceful Swannanoa,
Are the warriors who of old
Sought thee at thy mountain sources,
Where thy springs are icy cold—
Where the dark-browed Indian maidens,
Who their limbs were wont to lave
(Worthy bath for fairer beauty)
In thy cool and limpid wave?
Gone forever from thy borders,
But immortal in thy name,
Are the red men of the forest;
Be thou keeper of their fame!
Paler races dwell beside thee;
Celt and Saxon till thy lands,
Wedding use unto thy beauty—
Linking over thee their hands.
-Calvin Wiley -?- (1819-1887)
Though this was one of the most popular poems of the antebellum South, authorship is uncertain.