William Gilmore Simms

The Grape-Vine Swing

LITHE and long as the serpent train,
    Springing and clinging from tree to tree, 
Now adarting upward, now down again,
    With a twist and a twirl that are strange to see; 
Never took serpent a deadlier hold,
    Never the cougar a wilder spring, 
Strangling the oak with the boa's fold,
    Spanning the beach with the condor's wing.

Yet no foe that we fear to seek,--
    The boy leaps wild to thy rude embrace; 
Thy bulging arms bear as soft a cheek
    As ever on lover's breast found place; 
On thy waving train is a playful hold
    Thou shalt never to lighter grasp persuade; 
While a maiden sits in thy drooping fold,
    And swings and sings in the noonday shade!

O giant strange of our Southern woods!
    I dream of thee still in the well-known spot, 
Though our vessel strains o'er the ocean floods,
    And the Northern forest beholds thee not; 
I think of thee still with a sweet regret,
    As the cordage yields to my playful grasp,-- 
Dost thou spring and cling in our woodlands yet?
    Does the maiden still swing in thy giant clasp?

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