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Ossipee Mountains – A continued source of inspiration

By: Mackenzie M. Padula, 4/6/2021

The Ossipee Mountain Range that serves as home to Castle in the Clouds has been a source of inspiration and tranquility for the public for generations. Artists like Lucy Larcom, John Greenleaf Whittier, Robert Frost, and our very own Olive Plant memorialized their gracious views and experiences into poetry.

Lucy Larcom

Lucy was born in Beverly, Massachusetts in the early 1800s. With a thirst for knowledge and a passion for literature, she started to publish poetry in a Lowell newspaper. She went on to publish several books about poetry, and even an autobiography that outlined being raised in New England as a young girl[1]. Lucy found her respite in the mountains and hills of New Hampshire and Maine. She made annual pilgrimages to “Ossipee Park, The Notch, Bethlehem, Moosilauke, Bethel, Centre Harbor, and Berlin Falls”[2]. On the Ossipee Mountains, Lucy remarked:

“There is a particular charm in the New Hampshire hill scenery just at this season, before the roses have faded, or the hay is mown, or the bobolinks have ceased singing among the clover blossoms, and while the midsummer-tide is rolling up over all, and blending all in haze and heat, – a mingling of freshness and ripeness that is indescribably lovely.”[3]

“It brings us the spice of pine woods and the clear drip of ice-cold waterfalls; the breath of pond lilies and sweet-briar and unmown scented grasses, clover-tops and mountain-tops, blended in one draught; and that delicate bubble of song which rises from the meadows, the faint farewell chorus of summer birds that seem loth to go, makes the cup overflow with musical foam.”[4]

Larcom Mountain in the Ossipee Mountain Range is named for Lucy.

John Greenleaf Whittier

A close friend to Lucy Larcom, and a poet in his own right, John Greenleaf Whittier published many works throughout his life time with subjects spanning from the abolitionist movement to New England folklore[5]. Traveling throughout the northern United States, Whittier made many famous friends and acquaintances including John Quincy Adams, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Larcom[6].  Amidst his travels, he frequented the Ossipee Mountains with Larcom, and penned the following poem about the area:

New England: Ossipee, the Lake, N.H. [7]

“Among the Hills”

John Greenleaf Whittier (1807-1892)

(Excerpt)

FOR weeks the clouds had raked the hills,

And vexed the vales with raining;

And all the woods were sad with mist,

And all the brooks complaining.

 

At last a sudden night-storm tore

The mountain veils asunder,

And swept the valleys clean before

The besom of the thunder.

 

Through Sandwich Notch the west-wind sang

Good-morrow to the cotter;

And once again Chocorua’s horn

Of shadow pierced the water.

 

Above his broad lake, Ossipee,

Once more the sunshine wearing,

Stooped, tracing on that silver shield

His grim armorial bearing.

 

Clear drawn against the hard blue sky,

The peaks had winter’s keenness;

And, close on autumn’s frost, the vales

Had more than Jane’s fresh greenness.

 

You should have seen that long hill-range

With gaps of brightness riven, –

How through each pass and hollow streamed

The purple lights of heaven;

 

Rivers of gold-mist flowing down

From far celestial fountains;

The great sun flaming through the rifts

Beyond the wall of mountains!

Whittier is also memorialized in the Ossipee Mountain Range – Mount Whittier is situated just next to Larcom Mountain.

Robert Frost

Multiple Pulitzer prize winner, Robert Frost was a transplant to New England in his youth. The U.S. Senate celebrates his poetry as “hav[ing] helped to guide American thought and humor and wisdom, setting forth to our minds a reliable representation of ourselves and of all men.”[8] In his early adulthood, Frost took the opportunity to visit Ossipee Park and stay in one of the homesteads on the property. He reflected on this experience in the poem below:

The Lockless Door [9]

(From A Miscellany of American Poetry 1920 [New York, 1920].)

IT went many years,

But at last came a knock,

And I thought of the door

With no lock to lock

 

I blew out the light,

I tip-toed the floor,

And raised both hands

In prayer to the door.

 

But the knock came again

My window was wide;

I climbed on the sill

And descended outside.

 

Back over the sill

I bade a “Come in”

To whoever the knock

At the door may have been.

 

So at a knock

I emptied by cage

To hide in the world

And alter with age.

You can listen to recordings of Frost reading some of his poems here.

Olive Plant

Olive was the wife to Tom Plant, who built Lucknow Estate. This estate spanned from the peaks of the Ossipee Mountains down to Lake Winnipesaukee, and offered a plethora of activities to keep the mind and body busy. In the poem attributed to Olive, she highlights some of these activities and how fortunate they are to enjoy this property:

What are some words you would use to describe our vistas?


 

[1] https://historyswomen.com/the-arts/lucy-larcom/

[2] https://www.larcomfamilytree.com/larcom-mountain-ossipee-mountains-new-hampshire/

[3] https://www.larcomfamilytree.com/larcom-mountain-ossipee-mountains-new-hampshire/

[4] https://www.larcomfamilytree.com/larcom-mountain-ossipee-mountains-new-hampshire/

[5] https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poets/john-greenleaf-whittier

[6] https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poets/john-greenleaf-whittier

[7] https://www.bartleby.com/270/13/201.html

[8] https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poets/robert-frost

[9] https://www.bartleby.com/155/7.html


 

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