Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, SONGS OF NEW SWEDEN: 3. THE SETTLEMENT, by ARTHUR PETERSON

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SONGS OF NEW SWEDEN: 3. THE SETTLEMENT, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Give, o ye muses of song, a sketch of old days in / new-sweden
Last Line: When o'er the delaware floated, unchallenged, the flag of christina.
Subject(s): Colonialism; Past; Sweden


Give, O ye Muses of Song, a sketch of old days in New-Sweden,
When o'er the Delaware floated, unchallenged, the flag of Christina.


Peaceful and primitive, then, were the lives and homes of the people;
Busily plowed the farmer, or hunted the deer in the forest;
Busily flew the wheel when the thrifty housewife sat spinning.
Built of logs was each house, and painted red, as in Sweden;
Built of logs was the barn, with its stalls for horses and cattle;
Round about, in the fields, where the land had been cleared of the forest,
Ripened the Indian-corn, to be ground into meal for the winter.
Six days labored the folk, but when rose the sun of the Sabbath,
Rifle and plow were dropped, and the wheel stood still in its corner.
Then, from near and from far, to the churches three of the province,
One at Tinicum, one at Wiccaco, one at Christina,
Gathered the congregations, God-fearing men and their households.
Mostly by water they came, avoiding the tortuous wood-paths,
Loving the canvas and oar, and the sights and sounds of the river,
Loving the lift of the wave, like their grim forefathers, the vikings.
Picturesque was the scene as the people entered the church-door,
Each one wearing the dress of his native parish in Sweden;
Youths in embroidered jackets, and maidens in bodices scarlet,
Here the farmer of Smaland, in buckskin waistcoat and breeches,
There, in her Sunday attire, the Dalecarlian matron.


Hardly a league from the spot where now stands the city of Chester,
Hardly a league from its mills, and the bustle and din of its ship-yards,
Lies the Island of Tinicum, dotted with picturesque homesteads.
Three miles in length it extends, in width a mile and a quarter,
Rimmed by the waters of Darby Creek and the Delaware River.
Here, at the time of my tales, were the Swedish headquarters. A fortress,
Fashioned of hemlock-logs, commanded the creek and the river;
Back of it stood the church, where preached from the pulpit, each Sunday,
Doctor John Campanius, he who likewise translated
Into the Indian tongue the catechism written by Luther;
While on the upland, its walls of yellow brick, carried from Sweden,
Stood the mansion of Printz, that Governor doughty, who figures
Always as friend of the Indian, and always as foe of the Dutchman.
This, say the chroniclers old, was the handsomest house in the province,
Large, substantially built, and tastefully furnished within-doors.
Printz's Hall it was called. Before it (a fashion from Holland)
Stood an octagonal pleasure-house; round it a garden extended,
Where, in symmetrical beds, bloomed hyacinths, tulips, and jonquils;
Back, over slight undulations, orchards of apple and pear trees,
Apricot, cherry and peach trees, spread with their bountiful harvests.


Thus appeared Tinicum Island, thus passed the old days in New-Sweden,
When o'er the Delaware floated, unchallenged, the flag of Christina.

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