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Yet slight thy form, and low thy seat,
And earthward bent thy gentle eye, Unapt the passing view to meet,
When loftier flowers are flaunting nigh.
Oft, in the sunless April day,
Thy early smile has stayed my walk; But midst the gorgeous blooms of May,
I passed thee on thy humble stalk.
So they, who climb to wealth, forget
The friends in darker fortunes tried. I copied them—but I regret
That I should ape the ways of pride.
And when again the genial hour
Awakes the painted tribes of light, I'll not o'erlook the modest flower
That made the woods of April bright.
INSCRIPTION FOR THE ENTRANCE TO A WOOD
STRANGER, if thou hast learned a truth which needs
No school of long experience, that the world
Is full of guilt and misery, and hast seen
Enough of all its sorrows, crimes, and cares,
To tire thee of it, enter this wild wood
And view the haunts of Nature. The calm shade
Shall bring a kindred calm, and the sweet breeze
That makes the green leaves dance, shall waft a balm
To thy sick heart. Thou wilt find nothing here
Of all that pained thee in the haunts of men
And made thee loathe thy life. The primal curse
Fell, it is true, upon the unsinning earth,
But not in vengeance. God hath yoked to guilt
Her pale tormentor, misery. Hence, these shades
Are still the abodes of gladness; the thick roof
green and stirring branches is alive
And musical with birds, that sing and sport
In wantonness of spirit; while below
The squirrel, with raised paws and form erect,
Chirps merrily. Throngs of insects in the shade
Try their thin wings and dance in the warm beam
That waked them into life. Even the green trees
Partake the deep contentment; as they bend
To the soft winds, the sun from the blue sky
Looks in and sheds a blessing on the scene.
Scarce less the cleft-born wild-flower seems to enjoy
Existence, than the winged plunderer
That sucks its sweets. The massy rocks themselves,
And the old and ponderous trunks of prostrate trees
That lead from knoll to knoll a causey rude
Or bridge the sunken brook, and their dark roots,
With all their earth upon them, twisting high,
Breathe fixed tranquillity. The rivulet
Sends forth glad sounds, and tripping o'er its bed
Of pebbly sands, or leaping down the rocks,
Seems, with continuous laughter, to rejoice
In its own being. Softly tread the marge,
Lest from her midway perch thou scare the wren
That dips her bill in water. The cool wind,
That stirs the stream in play, shall come to thee,
Like one that loves thee nor will let thee pass
Ungreeted, and shall give its light embrace.
Soon as the glazed and gleaming snow
Reflects the day-dawn cold and clear, The hunter of the west must go
In depth of woods to seek the deer.
His rifle on his shoulder placed,
His stores of death arranged with skill, His moccasins and snow-shoes laced,
Why lingers he beside the hill?
Far, in the dim and doubtful light,
Where woody slopes a valley leave, He sees what none but lover might,
The dwelling of his Genevieve.
And oft he turns his truant eye,
And pauses oft, and lingers near; But when he marks the reddening sky,
He bounds away to hunt the deer.
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
Might mark thy distant flight to do thee wrong,
As, darkly painted on the crimson sky,
Thy figure floats along.
Seek'st thou the plashy brink
Of weedy lake, or marge of river wide,
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,
Lone wandering, but not lost.