The Freshet (Thoreau)

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For works with similar titles, see The Freshet.


A stir is on the Worcester hills,
And Nobscot too the valley fills;
Where scarce you'd fill an acorn cup
In summer when the sun was up,
No more you'll find a cup at all,
But in its place a waterfall.

O that the moon were in conjunction
To the dry land's extremest unction,
Till every dike and pier were flooded,
And all the land with islands studded,
For once to teach all human kind,
Both those that plow and those that grind,
There is no fixture in the land,
But all unstable is as sand.

The river swelleth more and more,
Like some sweet influence stealing o'er
The passive town; and for a while
Each tussock makes a tiny isle,
Where, on some friendly Ararat,
Resteth the weary water-rat.

No ripple shows Musketaquid,
Her very current e'en is hid,
As deepest souls do calmest rest
When thoughts are swelling in the breast;
And she, that in the summer's drought
Doth make a rippling and a rout,
Sleeps from Nawshawtuct to the Cliff,
Unruffled by a single skiff;
So like a deep and placid mind
Whose currents underneath it wind,
For by a thousand distant hills
The louder roar a thousand rills,
And many a spring which now is dumb,
And many a stream with smothered hum,
Doth faster well and swifter glide,
Though buried deep beneath the tide.

Our village shows a rural Venice,
Its broad lagunes where yonder fen is,
Far lovelier than the Bay of Naples
Yon placid cove amid the maples,
And in my neighbor's field of corn
I recognize the Golden Horn.

Here Nature taught from year to year,
When only red men came to hear,
Methinks 't was in this school of art
Venice and Naples learned their part,
But still their mistress, to my mind,
Her young disciples leaves behind.[1]

  1. [Excursions, pp. 120, 121; Riv. 148, 149.]