West Virginia's Appalachian Music and Literature: Wind Up

West Virginia

Poem by Louise McNeill

 Listen to Karen Morgan read this poem as you follow the text.

Where the mountain river flows
And the rhododendron grows
Is the land of all the lands
That I touch with tender hands;

Loved and treasured, earth and star,
By my father's father far--
Deep-earth, black-earth, of-the-lime
From the ancient oceans' time.

Plow-land, fern-land, woodland shade,
Grave-land where my kin are laid,
West Virginia's hills to bless--
Leafy songs of wilderness;

Dear land, near land, here at home--
Where the rocks are honeycomb,
And the rhododendrons . . .
Where the mountain river runs.

From Hill Daughter: New & Selected Poems, by Louise McNeill (Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, ©1991). All rights are controlled by the University of Pittsburgh Press, Pittsburgh, PA 15260. Used by permission of the University of Pittsburgh Press.

Louise McNeill was born in 1911 in Pocahontas County, West Virginia, on a farm that her family had lived on for nine generations. She said of herself, "Until I was sixteen years old, until the roads came, the farm was about all I knew: our green meadows and hilly pastures, our storied old men, the great rolling seasons of moon and sunlight, our limestone cliffs and trickling springs." Louise McNeill was appointed Poet Laureate of West Virginia in 1979. She died in 1993.


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West Virginia's Appalachian Music and Literature is a self-contained teaching unit by Avis Caynor and Reneé Wyatt (1997), reprinted with permission in 2003 in the larger web site AppLit.

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