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Beauty Seen Is Never Lost

In the beautiful Bearcamp Intervale in Ossipee, New Hampshire, stands an ancient sugar maple, one of a double row of majestic giants, beneath which, local tradition asserts, the beloved Whittier used to sit as he wrote the songs that will never die so long as our people cherish the charm of the old Granite State.

In the beautiful Bearcamp Intervale in Ossipee, New Hampshire, stands an ancient sugar maple, one of a double row of majestic giants, beneath which, local tradition asserts, the beloved Whittier used to sit as he wrote the songs that will never die so long as our people cherish the charm of the old Granite State. At first sight it is difficult to understand the poet's preference for this particular tree above its fellows, but when one pauses in its scanty shade, and turns to see what the prospect offers, the reason for its selection is plain.

To the north, past Chocorua's trident peak, rises majestic Washington, chief of the White Hills. To the southeast stands the monadnock Green Mountain, flanked about by its pine barrens and the sandy eskers that mark the footprints of the great ice mass that once gouged the broad valley. To the west rises the low steep-sided hill that friends of the master wordpainter of New Hampshire's charms have honored with his name. Close by flows the gentle amber-hued Bearcamp, whose age-long meanderings have carved and levelled the whole broad valley itself. So it seems fitting and natural that he who so loved mountain and mountainborn water should choose the one spot in the neighborhood that best reveals these marvelous features of Nature.

In this peaceful valley the good poet spent many a summer of his closing years. Here he composed several lays that record with singular fidelity the beauty of the surroundings. Almost certainly it was while resting beneath this time-scarred tree that he wrote "Sunset on the Bearcamp," which begins: "A gold fringe on the purpling hem, Of hills the river runs, As down its long, green valley falls, The last of summer's suns. Touched by a light that hath no name, A glory never sung, Aloft on sky and mountain wall, Are God's great pictures hung."

In this poem, as nowhere else, Whittier seems to have expressed the rapture that he felt while viewing the changes that came with the gradual lowering of the sun. Then, in the slow but certain withdrawal of the light he must needs note the premonition of his own impending fate—the certainty that before long he must leave those well-loved scenes, but that for others the glowing sunsets and the flowers would shine, and the ever-lasting river would still ripple seaward over its sandy bed.

And as we pause, toward the close of a summer's day, beneath Whittier's mighty maple, and reflect on the littleness of the life of man, as viewed beside these marvels of the Infinite, we realize with the poet that "Beauty seen is never lost; God's colors all are fast." And we are grateful beyond words to the one who so loved these scenes that to him was given the genius to reveal to all the world, and for all rimeFeature Articles, the deeper meanings of their spell that never seems to pass.

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