“This is the forest primeval. The murmuring pines and the hemlocks,
… Loud from its rocky caverns, the deep-voiced neighboring ocean
Speaks, and in accents disconsolate answers the wail of the forest.”

-Henry Wadsworth Longfellow from Evangeline


These men came first for the furs and timbers
then later for glory and gold
but the forest primeval remembers.

Remembers the ones who came when the old
trees were still young—first of the men
who brought fires to chase off the wet and the cold.

The forest primeval remembers when
the brown men plied the sea alone
and brought the salmon to their wives again.

Can you count the things the forest has known?
The little houses belching smoke.
The discarded tools carved from whale’s bone.

Or the pale ones who brought the oxen’s yoke
and drained the swamp lands of their life.
It knew the white mountain before she woke

with such dreadful fire and bellowing strife.
It knows her sisters, still asleep,
and how the islands balance on a knife,

how the hills, when shaken, start to weep
and the waters rise to battle.
The cliffs are steep; the towers cannot keep.

And these waters, that once knew only fin and paddle
or the suction of slippered feet in mud
for now, endure this ferry’s hum and scrape and rattle

but will one day answer, their voice a disconsolate flood,
while the murmuring pines and the hemlocks wail for our blood.

*Several lines were stolen inspired by Longfellow’s poem Evangeline.