A land untamed, whose myriad isles
Are set in branching lakes that vein
Illimitable silent woods,
Voiceful in Fall, when their defiles,
Rich with the birch's golden rain,
See winging past the wildfowl broods.
Blue channels seem its dented rocks,
So steeply smoothed, but crusted o'er
With rounded mosses, green and grey,
That oft a Southern coral mocks
Upon this Northern fir-clad shore,
'Neath tufted copse on cape and bay.
Here sunshine from serener skies
Than Europe's ocean-islands know
Ripens the berry for the bear,
And pierces where the beaver plies
His water-forestry, or slow
The moose seeks out a breezy lair.
The blaze scarce spangles bush or ferns,
But lights the white pine's velvet fringe
And its dark Norway sister's boughs;
At eve between their shadows burns
The lake, where shafts of crimson tinge
The savage war-flotilla's prows.
Far circling round, these seem to shun
An isle more fair than all beside,
As if some lurking foe were there,
Although upon its heights the sun
Shines glorious, and its forest pride
Is fanned by summer's joyous air.
For 'mid these isles is one of fear,
And none may ever breathe its name.
There the Great Spirit loves to be;
Its haunted groves and waters clear
Are homes of thunder and of flame;
All pass it silently and flee,
Save they who potent magic learn,
Who lonely in that dreaded fane
Resist nine days the awful powers:
And, fasting, each through pain may earn
The knowledge daring mortals gain,
If life survive those secret hours!