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Longings for Home


O MAGNET-SOUTH! O glistening, perfumed South! My  
O quick mettle, rich blood, impulse, and love! Good  
 and evil! O all dear to me!
O dear to me my birth-things—All moving things,  
 and the trees where I was born—the grains,  
 plants, rivers;
Dear to me my own slow sluggish rivers where they  
 flow, distant, over flats of silvery sands, or  
 through swamps;
Dear to me the Roanoke, the Savannah, the Altama- 
 haw, the Pedee, the Tombigbee, the Santee, the  
 Coosa, and the Sabine;
O pensive, far away wandering, I return with my Soul  
 to haunt their banks again;
Again in Florida I float on transparent lakes—I float  
 on the Okeechobee—I cross the hummock land,  
 or through pleasant openings, or dense forests;
I see the parrots in the woods—I see the papaw tree  
 and the blossoming titi;
Again, sailing in my coaster, on deck, I coast off  
 Georgia—I coast up the Carolinas,
I see where the live-oak is growing—I see where the  
 yellow-pine, the scented bay-tree, the lemon and  
 orange, the cypress, the graceful palmetto;
  [ begin page 223 ]ppp.00473.223.jpg I pass rude sea-headlands and enter Pamlico Sound  
 through an inlet, and dart my vision inland;
O the cotton plant! the growing fields of rice, sugar,  
The cactus, guarded with thorns—the laurel-tree,  
 with large white flowers;
The range afar—the richness and barrenness—the old  
 woods charged with mistletoe and trailing moss,
The piney odor and the gloom—the awful natural  
 stillness, (Here in these dense swamps the free- 
 booter carries his gun, and the fugitive slave  
 has his conceal'd hut;)
O the strange fascination of these half-known, half- 
 impassable swamps, infested by reptiles, re- 
 sounding with the bellow of the alligator, the  
 sad noises of the night-owl and the wild-cat,  
 and the whirr of the rattlesnake;
The mocking-bird, the American mimic, singing all  
 the forenoon—singing through the moon-lit  
The humming-bird, the wild-turkey, the raccoon, the  
A Tennessee corn-field—the tall, graceful, long-leav'd  
 corn—slender, flapping, bright green, with  
 tassels—with beautiful ears, each well-sheath'd  
 in its husk;
An Arkansas prairie—a sleeping lake, or still bayou; O my heart! O tender and fierce pangs—I can stand  
 them not—I will depart;
O to be a Virginian, where I grew up! O to be a  
O longings irrepressible! O I will go back to old Ten- 
 nessee, and never wander more!
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