Maine’s mountains seem like lonely islands
rising from the peneplain, assuming maybe
grandeur just because they’re not
surrounded by competing neighbor peaks.
A few are clustered—Mt. Desért, Mahoosucs–
but none range so auspiciously collective as
The White Mountains of New Hampshire,
The Green Mountains of Vermont…
…”monadnocks” they are called, American
for the Abnaki meaning “solitary height.”
For centuries they’ve held their ground
providing wary outlooks to the land and sea,
being the initial, or the final, weary challenge of
the Appalachian Trail, the highest point of
the Atlantic seaboard until Rio de Janeiro,
and the first to greet the sunrise in the USA.
These mountains each acquired a moniker–
Abnaki, French or English–dubbed by those
who walked and worked the “maine-iac” terrain.
How else explain Picked Chicken Hill, Misery Knob,
Pocomoonshine, St. Sauveur, or Toenail Ridge?
Yet, in 1959, Maine’s legislature deemed
there was a need for a collective name, so
“The Longfellow Mountains,” they en masse became.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow was born in Maine.
Now all its mountains claim the cachet of
his poetry and fame. What would he say
today–in grateful tetrametric trochees–
being honored so? It’s just as well, perhaps,
he does not know. It seems his name,
collectivizing mountains, never did catch on,
though it appears, sometimes, on mountain maps.