Tuesday, October 16, 2012

On the Ledge by Lucy Larcom

Restored unto life by the sun and the breeze!
Rich balsams float down from the resinous trees, 
Stirring into quick health every pulse of the air;
Released once again from imprisoning care, 
At the gate of green pastures my soul lieth free,
And to go in or out is refreshment to me.

Lo, yonder is Paradise! Softly below, 
The river that watereth Eden doth flow!
I behold, through blue gaps in the mountainous west, 
Height ascending on height, the abodes of the blest;
And I cannot tell whether to climb were more sweet
Than to lap me in beauty spread out at my feet.

There sways a white cloud on yon loftiest peak, 
A wind from beyond it is fanning my cheek;
Through the oak and the birch glides a musical shiver, 
A ripple just silvers the dusk of the river.
-- Though I may not know how, each is part of the whole
Perfect flood-tide of peace that is brimming my soul.

Here is shelter and outlook, deep rest and wide room;
The pine woods behind, breathing balm out of gloom;
Before, the great hills over vast levels lean, --
A glory of purple, a splendor of green.
As a new earth and heaven, ye are mine once again.
Ye beautiful meadows and mountains of Maine!
Bethel, ME., September 1879.

Lucy Larcom was born in Beverly, Massachusetts in 1824. Her father died while she was young and her mother moved the family to Lowell. Starting at age 11, she worked in the textile mills of Lowell to help support her family. She started writing and her poems caught the attention of John Greenleaf Whittier. This poem describes the natural beauty of my hometown. Bethel is where all my lines converge and where my interest in family history began.

Thank you to cousin Bill West for hosting the Fourth Annual Genealogy Poetry Challenge. Check out his blog at westinnewengland.blogspot.com.





  1. I was born in Beverly, too, and have lots of Larcom cousins. I now live near Lowell, and took many, many Girl Scouts on tours of the mills and boarding houses to see how the mill girls lived, and we read excerpt from the "Lowell Offering" by Lucy Larcom. Her book on her childhood in New England is a classic.

  2. Great poem, Pam. Ironic that she was from Beverly and visited Bethel, two places where our Ellingwood ancestors lived.

    Thanks for posting this for the Challenge!