Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Toccoa Torrent



Years ago, I read Dam Break in Georgia, about the November 6, 1977 flood that killed 39 people at Toccoa Falls College. The book made a strong impression on me, and when I heard about the heavy rain in Toccoa this week, I could imagine the traumatic time it's been for many of the good folks that live there.

Toccoa Falls is a beauty. I photographed it (above) last winter on a rainy day, but nothing like the recent rainy days.

The Weather Channel has a video of Toccoa Falls during this week’s storms. The waterfall is transformed from an elegant beauty into a raging monster. Awesome stuff at:

http://www.weather.com/multimedia/videoplayer.html?from=email&bcpid=823425597&bclid=877032950&bctid=41235367001

If there’s one thing that people dislike, it’s 19th century American poetry. All the more reason to reprint this selection that I had the pleasure of reciting while visiting Toccoa last winter. You should have been there to hear it.

Composed by Stephen Greenleaf Bulfinch (1809-1870) and published in 1834.

LINES
WRITTEN AT TOCCOA FALLS, GEORGIA.

Hail, loveliest, purest scene!
How brightly mingling with the clear, blue sky,
Thy glancing wave arrests the upward eye,
Through thy grove's leafy screen.

Through thy transparent veil,
And wide around thee, Nature's grandest forms,
Rocks, built for ages to abide the storms,
Frown on the subject dale.

Fed by thy rapid stream,
In every crevice of that savage pile,
The living herbs in quiet beauty smile,
Lit by the sunny gleam.

And over all, that gush
Of rain-drops, sparkling to the noonday sun!
While ages round thee on their course have run,
Ceaseless thy waters rush.

I would not that the bow
With gorgeous hues should light thy virgin stream;
Better thy white and sun-lit foam should gleam
Thus, like unsullied snow.

Yes! thou hast seen the woods
Around, for centuries rise, decay, and die,
While thou hast poured thy endless current by,
To join the eternal floods.

The ages pass away,
Successive nations rise, and are forgot,
But on thy brilliant course thou pausest not,
'Mid thine unchanging spray.

When I have sunk to rest—
Thus wilt thou pass in calm sublimity,
Then be thy power to others, as to me,
On the deep soul impressed.

Here does a spirit dwell
Of gratitude, and contemplation high;
Holding deep union with eternity.
O loveliest scene, farewell!

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