The Croton Ode

George Pope Morris was commissioned by the Corporation of the city of New York to write a song commemorating the Croton system. Upon completion of the Croton Aqueduct, it was sung near the Park Fountain by the members of the New York Sacred Music Society on October, 14, 1842.

Gushing from this living fountain,
Music pours a falling strain,
As the goddess of the mountain
Comes with all her sparkling train.
From her grotto-springs advancing,
Glittering in her feathery spray,
Woodland fays beside her dancing,
She pursues her winding way.

Gently o’er the rippling water,
In her coral-shallop bright,
Glides the rock-king’s dove-eyed daughter,
Decked in robes of virgin white.
Nymphs and naiads, sweetly smiling,
Urge her bark with pearly hand,
Merrily the sylph beguiling
From the nooks of fairy-land.

Swimming on the snow-curled billow,
See the river-spirits fair
Lay their cheeks, as on a pillow,
With the foam-beads in their hair.
Thus attended, hither wending,
Floats the lovely oread now,
Eden’s arch of promise bending
Over her translucent brow.

Hail the wanderer from a far land!
Bind her flowing tresses up!
Crown her with a fadeless garland,
And with crystal brim the cup.
From her haunts of deep seclusion,
Let intemperance greet her too,
And the heat of his delusion
Sprinkle with this mountain-dew.

Water leaps as if delighted,
While her conquered foes retire!
Pale Contagion flies affrighted
With the baffled demon Fire!
Safety dwells in her dominions,
Health and Beauty with her move,
And entwine their circling pinions
In a sisterhood of love.

Water shouts a glad hosanna!
Bubbles up the earth to bless!
Cheers it like the precious manna
In the barren wilderness.
Here we wondering gaze, assembled
Like the grateful Hebrew band,
When the hidden fountain trembled,
And obeyed the prophet’s wand.

Round the aqueducts of story,
As the mists of Lethe throng,
Croton’s waves in all their glory
Troop in melody along.
Ever sparkling, bright, and single,
Will this rock-ribbed stream appear,
When posterity shall mingle
Like the gathered waters here.

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