Ode to the Conestoga

James D. Law was born in Aberdeenshire, Scotland in 1865. After his marriage to Agnus Duff in 1886, he emigrated to the United States and lived in Camden, New Jersey. Law was a business man, involved in various industries. He, together with his son, began making motion pictures as that technology developed, specializing in educational films. Mr. Law was also a writer who published several volumes of prose and poetry. His book, “Here and There in Two Hemispheres” was published by The Home Publishing Company in Lancaster in 1903. The book, as its name suggests, is a collection of anecdotes and poems from Mr. Law’s travels around the globe. This is an ode that he wrote about the Conestoga River.

The Conestoga River

[O, Conestoga, languid stream,
Howe’er my muse may smile on me,
When you I make my willing theme,
This favor let me ask of thee:
Shine through my lay like golden ore
That not a verse but may proclaim
And show how dearly I adore
And love thy sweet poetic name.
And then I’ll know —since thou art there
Each stanza must have something fair.]

How sweet it is, when gloaming tide
Concludes a sultry summer’s day,
By some cool water’s shaded side
With loved ones, young or old, to stray!
And where did any eye survey
A landscape matching scene on scene
Where Conestoga winds its way
Betwixt its trees and meadows green?
— O, lovely Conestoga!

What curves and coves, what bays and bends,
What nooks and niches not a few!
The rugged with the gentle blends
Where’er the path we may pursue.
For rare variety of view
No streams with vaunted classic names
Within the Old World or the New
Surpass the Conestoga’s claims
— Unrivalled Conestoga!

Not Turner’s noted crook of Lune,
Nor Byron’s wide and winding Rhine,
Nor Burns’ banks of Bonny Doon
Nor boasted Tweed, nor lauded Tyne,
Not Delaware nor Brandywine,
Nor Spey, nor Tay, nor Don nor Dee,
Nor Shakespeare’s Avon, still more fine.
E’er seemed so beautiful to me
— As tranquil Conestoga!

The bard who looks for castled crags
May find them here, and ruins old
As fine as any country brags
The Conestoga’s banks uphold!
Yea, could the poet’s muse unfold
The secrets of each rock and dell
And bygone haunts of Indians bold,
What lays and legends might he tell!
— Romantic Conestoga!

And best of all— and always best—
The chief of Conestoga’s charms:
Without an equal, east or west —
Her big and little fields and farms!
They shine like jewels on her arms!
Fine thriving stock and rich estates,
Exempt from all the rude alarms
That perch upon the merchant’s gates!
— Consoling Conestoga!

O, wearied folks in city pent
Seek Conestoga’s beauties soon;
Before the finest days are spent
With Nature for a space commune
And there, while birds will lilt a tune
To match the crooning water’s fall
Be grateful that so rare a boon
Is near you here and free to all
— Consummate Conestoga!

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