Following Atticus: Forty-Eight High Peaks, One Little Dog, and an Extraordinary Friendship by Tom Ryan is published by William Morrow. It tells the story of my adventures with Atticus M. Finch, a little dog of some distinction. You can also find our column in the NorthCountry News.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

While On The Subject Of Great Writers...

Thomas Starr King is famous for his writings about the White Moun- tains, but there are others who penned beautiful essays and poems about these magical mountains. Here's one by John Greenleaf Whittier called "Agiochook" (Agiochook was the Indian name for Mt. Washington and the Great Spirit who resided there):

GRAY searcher of the upper air,
There's sunshine on thy ancient walls,
A crown upon thy forehead bare,
A flash upon thy waterfalls.
A rainbow glory in the cloud
Upon thine awful summit bowed,
The radiant ghost of a dead storm!
And music from the leafy shroud
Which swathes in green thy giant form,
Mellowed and softened from above
Steals downward to the lowland ear,
Sweet as the first, fond dream of love
That melts upon the maiden's ear.

The time has been, white giant, when
Thy shadows veiled the red man'shome,
And over crag and serpent den,
And wild gorge where the steps of men
In chase or battle might not come,
The mountain eagle bore on high
The emblem of the free of soul,
And, midway in the fearful sky,
Sent back the Indian battle cry,
And answered to the thunder's roll.

The wigwam fires have all burned out,
The moccasin has left no track;
Nor wolf nor panther roam about
The Saco and the Merrimac.
And thou, that liftest up on high
Thy mighty barriers to the sky,
Art not the haunted mount of old,
Where on each crag of blasted stone
Some dreadful spirit found his throne,
And hid within the thick cloud fold,
Heard only in the thunder's crash,
Seen only in the lightning's flash,
When crumbled rock and riven branch
Went down before the avalanche!

No more that spirit moveth there;
The dwellers of the vale are dead;
No hunter's arrow cleaves the air;
No dry leaf rustles to his tread.
The pale-face climbs thy tallest rock,
His hands thy crystal gates unlock;
From steep to steep his maidens call,
Light laughing, like the streams that fall
In music down thy rocky wall,
And only when their careless tread
Lays bare an Indian arrow-head,
Spent and forgetful of the deer,
Think of the race that perished here.

Oh, sacred to the Indian seer,
Gray altar of the men of old!
Not vainly to the listening ear
The legends of thy past are told,
--Tales of the downward sweeping flood,
When bowed like reeds thy ancient wood;
Of arm├Ęd hands, and spectral forms;
Of giants in their leafy shroud,
And voices calling long and loud
In the dread pauses of thy storms.
For still within their caverned home
Dwell the strange gods of heathendom!