Poem: "The Hills Are Home," by Edna Dean Proctor

FORGET New Hampshire? By her cliffs, her meads, her brooks afoam,
With love and pride where'er we bide, the Hills, the Hills are Home!
On Mississippi or by Nile, Ohio, Volga, Rhine,
We see our cloud-born Merrimack adorn its valley shine;
And Contoocook–Singing Water–Monadnock's drifts have fed,
With lilt and rhyme and fall and chime flash e'er its pebbly bed;
And by Como's wave, yet fairer still, our Winnipesaukee spread.

Alp nor Sierra, nor the chains of India or Peru,
Can dwarf for us the white-robed heights of our wondering childhood knew–
The awful Notch, and the great Stone-Face, and the Lake where the echoes fly,
And the sovereign dome of Washington throned in the eastern sky;–
For from Colorado's Snowy Range to the crest of the Pyrenees
New Hampshire's mountains grandest lift their peaks in the airy seas,
And the winds of half the world are theirs across the main and the leas.

Yet far beyond her hills and streams New Hampshire dear we hold:
A thousand tender memories our glowing hearts enfold;
For in dreams we see the early home by the elms or the maples tall,
The orchard-trees where the robins built, and the well by the garden wall;
The lilacs and the apple-blooms make paradise of May,
And up from the clover-meadows floats the breath of the new-mown hay;
And the Sabbath bells, as the light breeze swells, ring clear and die away.

And Oh, the Lost Ones live again in love's immortal year!
We are children still by the hearth-fire's blaze while night steals cold and drear;
Our mother's fond caress we win, our father's smile of pride,
And, “Now I lay me down to sleep,” say, reverent, at their side.
Alas! Alas! their graves are green, or white with a pall of snow,
But we see them yet by the evening hearth as in the long ago,
And the quite churchyard where they rest if the holiest spot we know.

Forget New Hampshire? Let Kearsarge forget to greet the sun;
Connecticut forsake the sea; the Shoals their breakers shun;
But fervently, while life shall last, though wide our ways decline,
Back to the Mountain-Land our hearts will turn as to a shrine!
Forget New Hampshire? By her cliffs, her meads, her brooks afoam,
By all her hallowed memories,–our lode-start while we roam–
Whatever skies above us rise, the Hills, the Hills are Home!

–from “The Mountain Maid, And Other Poems of New Hampshire,” by Edna Dean Proctor; Houghton Mifflin & Company; Boston and New York; 1900
(written for “Old Home Week,” 1899)

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