[The following poem is the last written by the able pen of our deceased friend and former countryman, Mr. W. Cotten Downing. It was first published in the Asheville Evening Journal Feb., 28 , and finding, as all his writings did, such a warm reception from the people, it was called back and appeared again the next day in the same paper. We do not produce it as an average specimen of the poetical talent of this true Southern gentleman who loved the Sunny South, but who now lies cold in death, covered by the northern sod, but through the respect and love which we ever had for him in life, and to show that his last work and days were spent in praising and upon the soil he loved so well. -- Ed. Roanoke Beacon 14 March 1890.]
Oh! mountain-girt city of Asheville,
The gem of "The Land of the Sky,"
The rose of the beautiful valley,
With the French Broad flowing by,
How grand is the sweep of the mountains
Encircling the hill and the vale,
How pure are the musical fountains,
And soft the caress of the gale.
'Tis here that the zephyrs are fondest,
For they heal with a touch of their wings.
Tis here that the flowers are fairest,
And here the mountain hill sings.
'Tis here that the trill of the bluebird
Sweetly blends with the oriole's song,
As they flit over meadow and hillside,
In the sunlight, all the day long.
'Tis here that the cheeks of the maiden
Ripen out with the roses of health,
And the invalid lover of Mammon
Feels a joy that is better than wealth;
For the skies that are bright as Italian,
With the green wooded mountain and glen,
Bring back the full vigor of manhood,
And life is worth living again.
Oh! beautiful City of Asheville,
Romancer nor poet can write
The beauties that cluster around thee
Like glittering stars of the night;
But the eye of enraptured beholder
Alone, to the soul, of them speaks,
From the scenes on the swift-rolling river
All around to the tall mountain peak.
W. Cotten Downing
February 27, 1890