Heart of the Andes

Thomas Buchanan Read

TRAVERSE the oceans, seek for unknown strands;   
With great explorers ride through marvellous lands;   
Walk with the poet where his kingdom lies,—   
A realm of light beneath enchanted skies;   
Between bright islands sail the spicy seas,         
Beside the mighty-hearted Genoese;   
Conquer with Cortes the barbaric states,   
And pass through El Dorado’s golden gates;   
Shout with the great Balboa and his crew,   
What time a new sea sparkles into view;          
With Ponce de Leon seek the fabled stream   
Through flowery valleys brighter than his dream;   
But never any sight of new-found land   
Shall equal this, where we entrancèd stand,   
With dewy eyes and overflowing heart,          
Gazing from the exalted hill of Art!   
This is not sorrowing Italy, nor these   
The storied windings of the Pyrenees,   
Nor are yon high and trackless realms of snow   
The over-travelled Alps, the guide-man’s show!          
But these, in depth of equatorial green,   
Are the fresh Cordilleras, where between   
Wander bewildering rivers, dancing down   
Their rocky terraces of golden brown,   
Clapping their watery hands. About the falls          
The trees are wreathed like happy bacchanals.   
Here blooms a world that fears nor cold nor drouth,   
The lavish luxury of the teeming South,   
The carnival of summer, far and near,   
In lands where summer lords it all the year;          
And over all, his Andean front aglow,   
Great Chimborazo sits, his throne of snow!