Song of the Chattahoochee
Few American rivers are more famous than our own Chattahoochee that once separated the Cherokee Nation from the Creek Nation and separated both nations from earlier settlers.
The Chattahoochee, a body of sparkling water that cuts a winding swath through the red hills of North Georgia and lazily snakes its way more than 100 miles down through the valleys and past Atlanta. In its wake, it leaves recreation and drinking water for millions.
The lyrical, gentle words of poet Sidney Lanier first immortalized the river in a rhapsody known as "Song of The Chattahoochee." Younger American's came to know the river from the song "Chattahoochee," Alan Jackson's ode to the river days of his Georgia youth. Jackson's tribute became a No. 1 runaway best seller and established the songwriter as a genius who found a word that rhymed with Chattahoochee.
James Dickey wrote a literary classic about the Chattahoochee, Burt Reynolds starred in the movie and a nation of people would come to believe "Deliverance" accurately portrayed the mountain folks who live proudly on the river's land. It is a misconception, however, that has not hindered the strong flow of outsiders from buying up land and moving in to be near the Chattahoochee.
Song of the ChattahoocheeOut of the hills of Habersham,
Down the valleys of Hall,
I hurry amain to reach the plain,
Run the rapids and leap the fall!
Split at the rock and together again,
Accept my bed, or narrow or wide,
And flee from folly on every side
With a lover's pain to attain the plain
Far from the hills of Habersham,
Far from the valleys of Hall.
All down the hills of Habersham,
All through the valleys of Hall,
The rushes cried ABIDE, ABIDE,
The willful waterweeds held me thrall,
The laving laurel turned my tide,
The ferns and the fondling grass said STAY.
The dewberry dipped for to work delay,
And the little reeds sighed ABIDE, ABIDE,
HERE IN THE HILLS OF HABERSHAM,
HERE IN THE VALLEYS OF HALL.
High o'er the hills of Habersham,
Veiling the valleys of Hall,
The hickory told me manifold
Fair tales of shade, the poplar tall
Wrought me her shadowy self to hold,
The chestnut, the oak, the walnut, the pine,
Overleaning, with flickering meaning and sign,
Said, PASS NOT, SO COLD, THESE MANIFOLD
DEEP SHADES OF THE HILLS OF HABERSHAM,
THESE GLADES IN THE VALLEYS OF HALL.
And oft in the hills of Habersham,
And oft in the valleys of Hall,
The white quartz shone, and the smooth brook-stone
Did bar me of passage with friendly brawl,
And many a luminous jewel lone --
Crystals clear or a-cloud with mist,
Ruby, garnet and amethyst --
Made lures with the lights of streaming stone
In the clefts of the hills of Habersham,
In the beds of the valleys of Hall.
But oh, not the hills of Habersham,
And oh, not the valleys of Hall
Avail: I am fain to water the plain.
Downward the voices of Duty call --
Downward, to toil and be mixed with the main;
The dry fields burn, and the mills are to turn,
And a myriad flowers mortally yearn,
And the lordly main beyond the plain
Calls o'er the hills of Habersham,
Calls through the valleys of Hall.
Sidney Lanier (1842-1881)
Introductory information paraphrased from a column by Ronda Rich published in the Athens Banner-Herald on Sunday, January 11, 2004. Ronda Rich is the author of the best-selling book, "What Southern Women Know (That Every Woman Should)" and "My Life In The Pits."