TO HIM who in the love of Nature holds
Communion with her visible forms she speaks
A various language; for his gayer hours
She has a voice of gladness and a smile
And eloquence of beauty and she glides 5
Into his darker musings with a mild
And healing sympathy that steals away
Their sharpness ere he is aware. When thoughts
Of the last bitter hour come like a blight
Over thy spirit and sad images 10
Of the stern agony and shroud and pall
And breathless darkness and the narrow house
Make thee to shudder and grow sick at heart;—
Go forth under the open sky and list
To Nature's teachings while from all around— 15
Earth and her waters and the depths of air—
Comes a still voice—Yet a few days and thee
The all-beholding sun shall see no more
In all his course; nor yet in the cold ground
Where thy pale form was laid with many tears 20
Nor in the embrace of ocean shall exist
Thy image. Earth that nourished thee shall claim
Thy growth to be resolved to earth again
And lost each human trace surrendering up
Thine individual being shalt thou go 25
To mix forever with the elements;
To be a brother to the insensible rock
And to the sluggish clod which the rude swain
Turns with his share and treads upon. The oak
Shall send his roots abroad and pierce thy mould. 30
Yet not to thine eternal resting-place
Shalt thou retire alone nor couldst thou wish
Couch more magnificent. Thou shalt lie down
With patriarchs of the infant world —with kings
The powerful of the earth —the wise the good 35
Fair forms and hoary seers of ages past
All in one mighty sepulchre. The hills
Rock-ribbed and ancient as the sun; the vales
Stretching in pensive quietness between;
The venerable woods—rivers that move 40
In majesty and the complaining brooks
That make the meadows green; and poured round all
Old Ocean's gray and melancholy waste —
Are but the solemn decorations all
Of the great tomb of man! The golden sun 45
The planets all the infinite host of heaven
Are shining on the sad abodes of death
Through the still lapse of ages. All that tread
The globe are but a handful to the tribes
That slumber in its bosom.—Take the wings 50
Of morning pierce the Barcan wilderness
Or lose thyself in the continuous woods
Where rolls the Oregon and hears no sound
Save his own dashings —yet the dead are there:
And millions in those solitudes since first 55
The flight of years began have laid them down
In their last sleep—the dead reign there alone.
So shalt thou rest; and what if thou withdraw
In silence from the living and no friend
Take note of thy departure? All that breathe 60
Will share thy destiny. The gay will laugh
When thou art gone the solemn brood of care
Plod on and each one as before will chase
His favorite phantom; yet all these shall leave
Their mirth and their employments and shall come 65
And make their bed with thee. As the long train
Of ages glide away the sons of men
The youth in life's green spring and he who goes
In the full strength of years matron and maid
The speechless babe and the gray-headed man— 70
Shall one by one be gathered to thy side
By those who in their turn shall follow them.
So live that when thy summons comes to join
The innumerable caravan which moves
To that mysterious realm where each shall take 75
His chamber in the silent halls of death
Thou go not like the quarry-slave at night
Scourged to his dungeon but sustained and soothed
By an unfaltering trust approach thy grave
Like one who wraps the drapery of his couch 80
About him and lies down to pleasant dreams.
To a Waterfowl
WHITHER midst falling dew
While glow the heavens with the last steps of day
Far through their rosy depths dost thou pursue
Thy solitary way?
Vainly the fowler's eye 5
Might mark thy distant flight to do thee wrong
As darkly seen against the crimson sky
Thy figure floats along.
Seek'st thou the plashy brink
Of weedy lake or marge of river wide 10
Or where the rocking billows rise and sink
On the chafed ocean-side?
There is a Power whose care
Teaches thy way along that pathless coast—
The desert and illimitable air— 15
Lone wandering but not lost.
All day thy wings have fanned
At that far height the cold thin atmosphere
Yet stoop not weary to the welcome land
Though the dark night is near. 20
And soon that toil shall end;
Soon shalt thou find a summer home and rest
And scream among thy fellows; reeds shall bend
Soon o'er thy sheltered nest.
Thou 'rt gone the abyss of heaven 25
Hath swallowed up thy form; yet on my heart
Deeply hath sunk the lesson thou hast given
And shall not soon depart.
He who from zone to zone
Guides through the boundless sky thy certain flight 30
In the long way that I must tread alone
Will lead my steps aright.
A Forest Hymn
THE GROVES were God's first temples. Ere man learned
To hew the shaft and lay the architrave
And spread the roof above them—ere he framed
The lofty vault to gather and roll back
The sound of anthems; in the darkling wood 5
Amidst the cool and silence he knelt down
And offered to the Mightiest solemn thanks
And supplication. For his simple heart
Might not resist the sacred influences
Which from the stilly twilight of the place 10
And from the gray old trunks that high in heaven
Mingled their mossy boughs and from the sound
Of the invisible breath that swayed at once
All their green tops stole over him and bowed
His spirit with the thought of boundless power 15
And inaccessible majesty. Ah why
Should we in the world's riper years neglect
God's ancient sanctuaries and adore
Only among the crowd and under roofs
That our frail hands have raised? Let me at least 20
Here in the shadow of this aged wood
Offer one hymn—thrice happy if it find
Acceptance in His ear.
Father thy hand
Hath reared these venerable columns thou 25
Didst weave this verdant roof. Thou didst look down
Upon the naked earth and forthwith rose
All these fair ranks of trees. They in thy sun
Budded and shook their green leaves in thy breeze
And shot towards heaven. The century-living crow 30
Whose birth was in their tops grew old and died
Among their branches till at last they stood
As now they stand massy and tall and dark
Fit shrine for humble worshipper to hold
Communion with his Maker. These dim vaults 35
These winding aisles of human pomp or pride
Report not. No fantastic carvings show
The boast of our vain race to change the form
Of thy fair works. But thou art here—thou fill'st
The solitude. Thou art in the soft winds 40
That run along the summit of these trees
In music; thou art in the cooler breath
That from the inmost darkness of the place
Comes scarcely felt; the barky trunks the ground
The fresh moist ground are all instinct with thee. 45
Here is continual worship;—Nature here
In the tranquillity that thou dost love
Enjoys thy presence. Noiselessly around
From perch to perch the solitary bird
Passes; and yon clear spring that midst its herbs 50
Wells softly forth and wandering steeps the roots
Of half the mighty forest tells no tale
Of all the good it does. Thou hast not left
Thyself without a witness in these shades
Of thy perfections. Grandeur strength and grace 55
Are here to speak of thee. This mighty oak —
By whose immovable stem I stand and seem
Almost annihilated—not a prince
In all that proud old world beyond the deep
E'er wore his crown as loftily as he 60
Wears the green coronal of leaves with which
Thy hand has graced him. Nestled at his root
Is beauty such as blooms not in the glare
Of the broad sun. That delicate forest flower
With scented breath and look so like a smile 65
Seems as it issues from the shapeless mould
An emanation of the indwelling Life
A visible token of the upholding Love
That are the soul of this great universe.
My heart is awed within me when I think 70
Of the great miracle that still goes on
In silence round me—the perpetual work
Of thy creation finished yet renewed
Forever. Written on thy works I read
The lesson of thy own eternity. 75
Lo! all grow old and die—but see again
How on the faltering footsteps of decay
Youth presses —ever-gay and beautiful youth
In all its beautiful forms. These lofty trees
Wave not less proudly that their ancestors 80
Moulder beneath them. O there is not lost
One of earth's charms: upon her bosom yet
After the flight of untold centuries
The freshness of her far beginning lies
And yet shall lie. Life mocks the idle hate 85
Of his arch-enemy Death—yea seats himself
Upon the tyrant's throne—the sepulchre
And of the triumphs of his ghastly foe
Makes his own nourishment. For he came forth
From thine own bosom and shall have no end. 90
There have been holy men who hid themselves
Deep in the woody wilderness and gave
Their lives to thought and prayer till they outlived
The generation born with them nor seemed
Less aged than the hoary trees and rocks 95
Around them;—and there have been holy men
Who deemed it were not well to pass life thus.
But let me often to these solitudes
Retire and in thy presence reassure
My feeble virtue. Here its enemies 100
The passions at thy plainer footsteps shrink
And tremble and are still. O God! when thou
Dost scare the world with tempests set on fire
The heavens with falling thunderbolts or fill
With all the waters of the firmament 105
The swift dark whirlwind that uproots the woods
And drowns the villages; when at thy call
Uprises the great deep and throws himself
Upon the continent and overwhelms
Its cities—who forgets not at the sight 110
Of these tremendous tokens of thy power
His pride and lays his strifes and follies by?
O from these sterner aspects of thy face
Spare me and mine nor let us need the wrath
Of the mad unchainèd elements to teach 115
Who rules them. Be it ours to meditate
In these calm shades thy milder majesty
And to the beautiful order of thy works
Learn to conform the order of our lives.
I GAZED upon the glorious sky
And the green mountains round
And thought that when I came to lie
At rest within the ground
'T were pleasant that in flowery June 5
When brooks send up a cheerful tune
And groves a joyous sound
The sexton's hand my grave to make
The rich green mountain-turf should break.
A cell within the frozen mould 10
A coffin borne through sleet
And icy clods above it rolled
While fierce the tempests beat—
Away!—I will not think of these—
Blue be the sky and soft the breeze 15
Earth green beneath the feet
And be the damp mould gently pressed
Into my narrow place of rest.
There through the long long summer hours
The golden light should lie 20
And thick young herbs and groups of flowers
Stand in their beauty by.
The oriole should build and tell
His love-tale close beside my cell;
The idle butterfly 25
Should rest him there and there be heard
The housewife bee and humming-bird.
And what if cheerful shouts at noon
Come from the village sent
Or song of maids beneath the moon 30
With fairy laughter blent?
And what if in the evening light
Betrothèd lovers walk in sight
Of my low monument?
I would the lovely scene around 35
Might know no sadder sight nor sound.
I know that I no more should see
The season's glorious show
Nor would its brightness shine for me
Nor its wild music flow; 40
But if around my place of sleep
The friends I love should come to weep
They might not haste to go.
Soft airs and song and light and bloom
Should keep them lingering by my tomb. 45
These to their softened hearts should bear
The thought of what has been
And speak of one who cannot share
The gladness of the scene;
Whose part in all the pomp that fills 50
The circuit of the summer hills
Is that his grave is green;
And deeply would their hearts rejoice
To hear again his living voice.
The Death of the Flowers
THE MELANCHOLY days have come the saddest of the year
Of wailing winds and naked woods and meadows brown and sere;
Heaped in the hollows of the grove the autumn leaves lie dead;
They rustle to the eddying gust and to the rabbit's tread;
The robin and the wren are flown and from the shrubs the jay 5
And from the wood-top calls the crow through all the gloomy day.
Where are the flowers the fair young flowers that lately sprang and stood
In brighter light and softer airs a beauteous sisterhood?
Alas! they all are in their graves the gentle race of flowers
Are lying in their lowly beds with the fair and good of ours. 10
The rain is falling where they lie but the cold November rain
Calls not from out the gloomy earth the lovely ones again.
The wind-flower and the violet they perished long ago
And the brier-rose and the orchis died amid the summer glow;
But on the hill the goldenrod and the aster in the wood 15
And the blue sunflower by the brook in autumn beauty stood
Till fell the frost from the clear cold heaven as falls the plague on men
And the brightness of their smile was gone from upland glade and glen.
And now when comes the calm mild day as still such days will come
To call the squirrel and the bee from out their winter home; 20
When the sound of dropping nuts is heard though all the trees are still
And twinkle in the smoky light the waters of the rill
The south wind searches for the flowers whose fragrance late he bore
And sighs to find them in the wood and by the stream no more.
And then I think of one who in her youthful beauty died 25
The fair meek blossom that grew up and faded by my side.
In the cold moist earth we laid her when the forests cast the leaf
And we wept that one so lovely should have a life so brief:
Yet not unmeet it was that one like that young friend of ours
So gentle and so beautiful should perish with the flowers. 30
THOU unrelenting Past!
Strong are the barriers round thy dark domain
And fetters sure and fast
Hold all that enter thy unbreathing reign.
Far in thy realm withdrawn 5
Old empires sit in sullenness and gloom
And glorious ages gone
Lie deep within the shadow of thy womb.
Childhood with all its mirth
Youth Manhood Age that draws us to the ground 10
And last Man's Life on earth
Glide to thy dim dominions and are bound.
Thou hast my better years;
Thou hast my earlier friends the good the kind
Yielded to thee with tears— 15
The venerable form the exalted mind.
My spirit yearns to bring
The lost ones back—yearns with desire intense
And struggles hard to wring
Thy bolts apart and pluck thy captives thence. 20
In vain; thy gates deny
All passage save to those who hence depart;
Nor to the streaming eye
Thou giv'st them back—nor to the broken heart.
In thy abysses hide 25
Beauty and excellence unknown; to thee
Earth's wonder and her pride
Are gathered as the waters to the sea;
Labors of good to man
Unpublished charity unbroken faith 30
Love that midst grief began
And grew with years and faltered not in death.
Full many a mighty name
Lurks in thy depths unuttered unrevered;
With thee are silent fame 35
Forgotten arts and wisdom disappeared.
Thine for a space are they—
Yet shalt thou yield thy treasures up at last:
Thy gates shall yet give way
Thy bolts shall fall inexorable Past! 40
All that of good and fair
Has gone into thy womb from earliest time
Shall then come forth to wear
The glory and the beauty of its prime.
They have not perished—no! 45
Kind words remembered voices once so sweet
Smiles radiant long ago
And features the great soul's apparent seat.
All shall come back; each tie
Of pure affection shall be knit again; 50
Alone shall Evil die
And Sorrow dwell a prisoner in thy reign.
And then shall I behold
Him by whose kind paternal side I sprung
And her who still and cold 55
Fills the next grave—the beautiful and young.
Song of Marion's Men
OUR band is few but true and tried
Our leader frank and bold;
The British soldier trembles
When Marion's name is told.
Our fortress is the good greenwood 5
Our tent the cypress-tree;
We know the forest round us
As seamen know the sea.
We know its walls of thorny vines
Its glades of reedy grass 10
Its safe and silent islands
Within the dark morass.
Woe to the English soldiery
That little dread us near!
On them shall light at midnight 15
A strange and sudden fear:
When waking to their tents on fire
They grasp their arms in vain
And they who stand to face us
Are beat to earth again; 20
And they who fly in terror deem
A mighty host behind
And hear the tramp of thousands
Upon the hollow wind.
Then sweet the hour that brings release 25
From danger and from toil;
We talk the battle over
And share the battle's spoil.
The woodland rings with laugh and shout
As if a hunt were up 30
And woodland flowers are gathered
To crown the soldier's cup.
With merry songs we mock the wind
That in the pine-top grieves
And slumber long and sweetly 35
On beds of oaken leaves.
Well knows the fair and friendly moon
The band that Marion leads—
The glitter of their rifles
The scampering of their steeds. 40
'T is life to guide the fiery barb
Across the moonlit plain;
'T is life to feel the night-wind
That lifts his tossing mane.
A moment in the British camp— 45
A moment—and away
Back to the pathless forest
Before the peep of day.
Grave men there are by broad Santee
Grave men with hoary hairs; 50
Their hearts are all with Marion
For Marion are their prayers.
And lovely ladies greet our band
With kindliest welcoming
With smiles like those of summer 55
And tears like those of spring.
For them we wear these trusty arms
And lay them down no more
Till we have driven the Briton
Forever from our shore. 60
ONCE this soft turf, this rivulet's sands,
Were trampled by a hurrying crowd,
And fiery hearts and armèd hands
Encountered in the battle-cloud.
Ah! never shall the land forget 5
How gushed the life-blood of her brave—
Gushed, warm with hope and courage yet,
Upon the soil they fought to save.
Now all is calm, and fresh, and still;
Alone the chirp of flitting bird, 10
And talk of children on the hill,
And bell of wandering kine, are heard.
No solemn host goes trailing by
The black-mouthed gun and staggering wain;
Men start not at the battle-cry,— 15
O, be it never heard again!
Soon rested those who fought; but thou
Who minglest in the harder strife
For truths which men receive not now,
Thy warfare only ends with life. 20
A friendless warfare! lingering long
Through weary day and weary year;
A wild and many-weaponed throng
Hang on thy front, and flank, and rear.
Yet nerve thy spirit to the proof, 25
And blench not at thy chosen lot,
The timid good may stand aloof,
The sage may frown—yet faint thou not.
Nor heed the shaft too surely cast,
The foul and hissing bolt of scorn; 30
For with thy side shall dwell, at last,
The victory of endurance born.
Truth, crushed to earth, shall rise again;
The eternal years of God are hers;
But Error, wounded, writhes in pain, 35
And dies among his worshippers.
Yea, though thou lie upon the dust,
When they who helped thee flee in fear,
Die full of hope and manly trust,
Like those who fell in battle here. 40
Another hand thy sword shall wield,
Another hand the standard wave,
Till from the trumpet's mouth is pealed
The blast of triumph o'er thy grave.
The Future Life
HOW shall I know thee in the sphere which keeps
The disembodied spirits of the dead
When all of thee that time could wither sleeps
And perishes among the dust we tread?
For I shall feel the sting of ceaseless pain 5
If there I meet thy gentle presence not;
Nor hear the voice I love nor read again
In thy serenest eyes the tender thought.
Will not thy own meek heart demand me there?
That heart whose fondest throbs to me were given— 10
My name on earth was ever in thy prayer
And wilt thou never utter it in heaven?
In meadows fanned by heaven's life-breathing wind
In the resplendence of that glorious sphere
And larger movements of the unfettered mind 15
Wilt thou forget the love that joined us here?
The love that lived through all the stormy past
And meekly with my harsher nature bore
And deeper grew and tenderer to the last
Shall it expire with life and be no more? 20
A happier lot than mine and larger light
Await thee there for thou hast bowed thy will
In cheerful homage to the rule of right
And lovest all and renderest good for ill.
For me the sordid cares in which I dwell 25
Shrink and consume my heart as heat the scroll;
And wrath has left its scar—that fire of hell
Has left its frightful scar upon my soul.
Yet though thou wear'st the glory of the sky
Wilt thou not keep the same belovèd name 30
The same fair thoughtful brow and gentle eye
Lovelier in heaven's sweet climate yet the same?
Shalt thou not teach me in that calmer home
The wisdom that I learned so ill in this—
The wisdom which is love—till I become 35
Thy fit companion in that land of bliss?
The Crowded Street
LET me move slowly through the street
Filled with an ever-shifting train
Amid the sound of steps that beat
The murmuring walks like autumn rain.
How fast the flitting figures come! 5
The mild the fierce the stony face;
Some bright with thoughtless smiles and some
Where secret tears have left their trace.
They pass—to toil to strife to rest;
To halls in which the feast is spread; 10
To chambers where the funeral guest
In silence sits beside the dead.
And some to happy homes repair
Where children pressing cheek to cheek
With mute caresses shall declare 15
The tenderness they cannot speak.
And some who walk in calmness here
Shall shudder as they reach the door
Where one who made their dwelling dear
Its flower its light is seen no more. 20
Youth with pale cheek and slender frame
And dreams of greatness in thine eye!
Go'st thou to build an early name
Or early in the task to die?
Keen son of trade with eager brow! 25
Who is now fluttering in thy snare?
Thy golden fortunes tower they now
Or melt the glittering spires in air?
Who of this crowd to-night shall tread
The dance till daylight gleam again? 30
Who sorrow o'er the untimely dead?
Who writhe in throes of mortal pain?
Some famine-struck shall think how long
The cold dark hours how slow the light;
And some who flaunt amid the throng 35
Shall hide in dens of shame to-night.
Each where his tasks or pleasures call
They pass and heed each other not.
There is who heeds who holds them all
In His large love and boundless thought. 40
These struggling tides of life that seem
In wayward aimless course to tend
Are eddies of the mighty stream
That rolls to its appointed end.
"Oh Mother of a Mighty Race"
OH mother of a mighty race
Yet lovely in thy youthful grace!
The elder dames thy haughty peers
Admire and hate thy blooming years.
With words of shame 5
And taunts of scorn they join thy name.
For on thy cheeks the glow is spread
That tints thy morning hills with red;
Thy step—the wild deer's rustling feet
Within thy woods are not more fleet; 10
Thy hopeful eye
Is bright as thine own sunny sky.
Ay let them rail—those haughty ones
While safe thou dwellest with thy sons.
They do not know how loved thou art 15
How many a fond and fearless heart
Would rise to throw
Its life between thee and the foe.
They know not in their hate and pride
What virtues with thy children bide; 20
How true how good thy graceful maids
Make bright like flowers the valley-shades;
What generous men
Spring like thine oaks by hill and glen.
What cordial welcomes greet the guest 25
By thy lone rivers of the West;
How faith is kept and truth revered
And man is loved and God is feared
In woodland homes
And where the ocean-border foams. 30
There 's freedom at thy gates and rest
For Earth's down-trodden and opprest
A shelter for the hunted head
For the starved laborer toil and bread.
Power at thy bounds 35
Stops and calls back his baffled hounds.
Oh fair young mother! on thy brow
Shall sit a nobler grace than now.
Deep in the brightness of the skies
The thronging years in glory rise 40
And as they fleet
Drop strength and riches at thy feet.
Thine eye with every coming hour
Shall brighten and thy form shall tower;
And when thy sisters elder born 45
Would brand thy name with words of scorn
Before thine eye
Upon their lips the taunt shall die.
The Conqueror's Grave
WITHIN this lowly grave a Conqueror lies
And yet the monument proclaims it not
Nor round the sleeper's name hath chisel wrought
The emblems of a fame that never dies —
Ivy and amaranth in a graceful sheaf 5
Twined with the laurel's fair imperial leaf.
A simple name alone
To the great world unknown
Is graven here and wild-flowers rising round
Meek meadow-sweet and violets of the ground 10
Lean lovingly against the humble stone.
Here in the quiet earth they laid apart
No man of iron mould and bloody hands
Who sought to wreak upon the cowering lands
The passions that consumed his restless heart; 15
But one of tender spirit and delicate frame
Gentlest in mien and mind
Of gentle womankind
Timidly shrinking from the breath of blame:
One in whose eyes the smile of kindness made 20
Its haunt like flowers by sunny brooks in May
Yet at the thought of others' pain a shade
Of sweeter sadness chased the smile away.
Nor deem that when the hand that moulders here
Was raised in menace realms were chilled with fear 25
And armies mustered at the sign as when
Clouds rise on clouds before the rainy East—
Gray captains leading bands of veteran men
And fiery youths to be the vulture's feast.
Not thus were waged the mighty wars that gave 30
The victory to her who fills this grave;
Alone her task was wrought
Alone the battle fought;
Through that long strife her constant hope was staid
On God alone nor looked for other aid. 35
She met the hosts of Sorrow with a look
That altered not beneath the frown they wore
And soon the lowering brood were tamed and took
Meekly her gentle rule and frowned no more.
Her soft hand put aside the assaults of wrath 40
And calmly broke in twain
The fiery shafts of pain
And rent the nets of passion from her path.
By that victorious hand despair was slain.
With love she vanquished hate and overcame 45
Evil with good in her Great Master's name.
Her glory is not of this shadowy state
Glory that with the fleeting season dies;
But when she entered at the sapphire gate
What joy was radiant in celestial eyes! 50
How heaven's bright depths with sounding welcomes rung
And flowers of heaven by shining hands were flung!
And He who long before
Pain scorn and sorrow bore
The Mighty Sufferer with aspect sweet 55
Smiled on the timid stranger from his seat;
He who returning glorious from the grave
Dragged Death disarmed in chains a crouching slave.
See as I linger here the sun grows low;
Cool airs are murmuring that the night is near. 60
O gentle sleeper from thy grave I go
Consoled though sad in hope and yet in fear.
Brief is the time I know
The warfare scarce begun;
Yet all may win the triumphs thou hast won. 65
Still flows the fount whose waters strengthened thee
The victors' names are yet too few to fill
Heaven's mighty roll; the glorious armory
That ministered to thee is open still.
The Planting of the Apple-Tree
COME let us plant the apple-tree.
Cleave the tough greensward with the spade;
Wide let its hollow bed be made;
There gently lay the roots and there
Sift the dark mould with kindly care 5
And press it o'er them tenderly
As round the sleeping infant's feet
We softly fold the cradle sheet;
So plant we the apple-tree.
What plant we in this apple-tree? 10
Buds which the breath of summer days
Shall lengthen into leafy sprays;
Boughs where the thrush with crimson breast
Shall haunt and sing and hide her nest;
We plant upon the sunny lea 15
A shadow for the noontide hour
A shelter from the summer shower
When we plant the apple-tree.
What plant we in this apple-tree?
Sweets for a hundred flowery springs 20
To load the May-wind's restless wings
When from the orchard row he pours
Its fragrance through our open doors;
A world of blossoms for the bee
Flowers for the sick girl's silent room 25
For the glad infant sprigs of bloom
We plant with the apple-tree.
What plant we in this apple-tree!
Fruits that shall swell in sunny June
And redden in the August noon 30
And drop when gentle airs come by
That fan the blue September sky
While children come with cries of glee
And seek them where the fragrant grass
Betrays their bed to those who pass 35
At the foot of the apple-tree.
And when above this apple-tree
The winter stars are quivering bright
And winds go howling through the night
Girls whose young eyes o'erflow with mirth 40
Shall peel its fruit by cottage-hearth
And guests in prouder homes shall see
Heaped with the grape of Cintra's vine
And golden orange of the line
The fruit of the apple-tree. 45
The fruitage of this apple-tree
Winds and our flag of stripe and star
Shall bear to coasts that lie afar
Where men shall wonder at the view
And ask in what fair groves they grew; 50
And sojourners beyond the sea
Shall think of childhood's careless day
And long long hours of summer play
In the shade of the apple-tree.
Each year shall give this apple-tree 55
A broader flush of roseate bloom
A deeper maze of verdurous gloom
And loosen when the frost-clouds lower
The crisp brown leaves in thicker shower;
The years shall come and pass but we 60
Shall hear no longer where we lie
The summer's songs the autumn's sigh
In the boughs of the apple-tree.
And time shall waste this apple-tree.
Oh when its aged branches throw 65
Thin shadows on the ground below
Shall fraud and force and iron will
Oppress the weak and helpless still?
What shall the tasks of mercy be
Amid the toils the strifes the tears 70
Of those who live when length of years
Is wasting this little apple-tree?
Who planted this old apple-tree?
The children of that distant day
Thus to some aged man shall say; 75
And gazing on its mossy stem
The gray-haired man shall answer them:
A poet of the land was he,
Born in the rude but good old times;
'T is said he made some quaint old rhymes 80
On planting the apple-tree.
STAND here by my side and turn, I pray,
On the lake below thy gentle eyes;
The clouds hang over it, heavy and gray,
And dark and silent the water lies;
And out of that frozen mist the snow 5
In wavering flakes begins to flow;
Flake after flake
They sink in the dark and silent lake.
See how in a living swarm they come
From the chambers beyond that misty veil; 10
Some hover awhile in air, and some
Rush prone from the sky like summer hail.
All, dropping swiftly or settling slow,
Meet and are still in the depths below;
Flake after flake 15
Dissolved in the dark and silent lake.
Here delicate snow-stars, out of the cloud,
Come floating downward in airy play,
Like spangles dropped from the glistening crowd
That whiten by night the milky-way; 20
There broader and burlier masses fall;
The sullen water buries them all—
Flake after flake
All drowned in the dark and silent lake.
And some, as on tender wings they glide 25
From their chilly birth-cloud, dim and gray,
Are joined in their fall, and, side by side,
Come clinging along their unsteady way;
As friend with friend, or husband with wife,
Makes hand in hand the passage of life; 30
Each mated flake
Soon sinks in the dark and silent lake.
Lo! while we are gazing, in swifter haste
Stream down the snows, till the air is white,
As, myriads by myriads madly chased, 35
They fling themselves from their shadowy height.
The fair, frail creatures of middle sky,
What speed they make, with their grave so nigh;
Flake after flake,
To lie in the dark and silent lake! 40
I see in thy gentle eyes a tear;
They turn to me in sorrowful thought;
Thou thinkest of friends, the good and dear,
Who were for a time and now are not;
Like these fair children of cloud and frost, 45
That glisten a moment and then are lost,
Flake after flake—
All lost in the dark and silent lake.
Yet look again, for the clouds divide;
A gleam of blue on the water lies; 50
And far away, on the mountain-side,
A sunbeam falls from the opening skies.
But the hurrying host that flew between
The cloud and the water, no more is seen;
Flake after flake, 55
At rest in the dark and silent lake.
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