On Arriving in South Carolina, 1798

Philip Freneau

A happy gale presents, once more,
The gay and ever verdant shore,
Which every pleasure will restore
To those who come again:
You, Carolina, from the seas
Emerging, claim all power to please,
Emerge with elegance and ease
From Neptune's briny main.

To find in you a happier home,
Retirement for the days to come,
From northern coasts you saw me roam,
By flattering fancy moved:
I came, and in your fragrant woods,
Your magic isles and gay abodes,
In rural haunts and passing floods
Review'd the scenes I loved,

When sailing oft, from year to year
And leaving all I counted dear,
I found the happy country here
Where manly hearts abound;
Where friendship's kind extended hand,
All social, leads a generous band;
Where heroes, who redeem'd the land
Still live to be renown'd:

Who live to fill the trump of fame,
Or, dying, left the honor'd name
Which Athens had been proud to claim
From her historian's page—
These with invading thousands strove,
These bade the foe their prowess prove,
And from their old dominions drove
The tyrants of the age.

Long, long may every good be thine,
Sweet country, named from Caroline,
Once seen in Britain's court to shine
The fairest of the fair:
Still may the wanderer find a home
Where'er thy varied forests bloom,
And peace and pleasure with him come
To take their station here.

Here Ashley, with his brother stream,
By Charleston gliding, all, may claim,
That ever graced a poet's dream
Or sooth'd a statesman's cares;
She, seated near her forests blue,
Which winter's rigor never knew,
With half an ocean in her view
Her shining turrets rears.

Here stately oaks of living green
Along the extended coast are seen,
That rise beneath a heaven serene,
Unfading through the year—
In groves the tall Palmetto grows,
In shades inviting to repose,
The fairest, loveliest, scenes disclose—
All nature charms us here.

Dark wilds are thine, the yellow field,
And rivers by no frost congeal'd,
And, Ceres, all that you can yield
To deck the festive board;
The snow white fleece, from pods that grows,
And every seed that Flora sows—
The orange and the fig-tree shows
A paradise restored.

There rural love to bless the swains
In the bright eye of beauty reigns,
And brings a heaven upon the plains
From some dear Emma's charms;
Some Laura fair who haunts the mead,
Some Helen, whom the graces lead,
Whose charms the charms of her exceed
That set the world in arms.

And distant from the sullen roar
Of ocean, bursting on the shore,
A region rises, valued more
Than all the shores possess:
There lofty hills their range display,
Placed in a climate ever gay,
From wars and commerce far away,
Sweet nature's wilderness.

There all that art has taught to bloom,
The streams that from the mountain foam,
And thine, Eutaw, that distant roam,
Impart supreme delight:
The prospect to the western glade,
The ancient forest, undecay'd—
All these the wildest scenes have made
That ever awed the sight.

There Congaree his torrent pours,
Saluda, through the forest roars,
And black Catawba laves his shores
With waters from afar,
Till mingled with the proud Santee,
Their strength, united, finds the sea,
Through many a plain, by many a tree,
Then rush across the bar.

But, where all nature's fancies join,
Were but a single acre mine,
Blest with the cypress and the pine,
I would request no more;
And leaving all that once could please,
The northern groves and stormy seas—
I would not change such scenes as these
For all that men adore.

Freneau sailed into Charleston in February 1798 after a stormy voyage.