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Nathaniel Hawthorne, 1804-1864

Poem about the Old Manse

By Henry David Thoreau

From A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers, 1849


[Online editor's note: the boat trip was taken in 1839; the book was written at Walden Pond 1845-7, and published in 1849. The copy-text here is the Library of America volume of Thoreau, 1985, page 17. ]


. . . .

We were soon floating past the first regular battle-ground of the Revolution, resting on our oars between the still visible abutments of that "North Bridge," over which in April, 1775, rolled the first faint tide of that war. . . .

. . .we swept gently by this now peaceful pasture-ground, on waves of Concord, in which was long since drowned the din of war.

But since we sailed
Some things have failed,
And many a dream
Gone down the stream.


Here then an aged shepherd dwelt,
Who to his flock his substance dealt,
And ruled them with a vigorous crook,
By precept of the sacred Book;
But he the pierless bridge passed o'er,
And solitary left the shore.

Anon a youthful pastor came,
Whose crook was not unknown to fame,
His lambs he viewed with gentle glance,
Spread o'er the country's wide expanse,
And fed with "Mosses from the Manse."
Here was our Hawthorne in the dale,
And here the shepherd told his tale.

That slight shaft had now sunk behind the hills, and we had floated round the neighboring bend, and under the new North Bridge between Ponkawtasset and the Poplar Hill, into the Great Meadows, which, like a broad moccason print, have levelled a fertile and juicy place in nature. . . .

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