Posts Tagged ‘Rhode Island’

A Woodland Walk

January 30, 2011

Image from the Jeremy Ford website gallery – UK


[Written for the Newport News.]


Oh, welcome woods! Oh, friendly trees!
I walk beneath your scanty shade.
November’s frosts, October’s breeze,
Your creaking limbs have naked laid.
Through light and dark, for days and nights,
A shower of purple, gold, and red,
Has filled your siefes with flashing lights,
As torches gleam when me are dead.
A vast cathedral is the wood;
Its tapers bright are falling leaves —
With sunshine caught, and merry mood,
The turf they heap with loving wreaths.
And who lies dead beneath this pall,
This tapestry in woodland wrought?
Ah! death’s the common lot of all,
And all the wide mouth’d grave has caught!

The crisp leaves crumble ‘neath my feet;
The lithesome limbs sigh overhead;
The air is sad — the cold winds meet —
The sun beams low — his rays are red.
I know the hour is near at hand
When winding sheets of drifting snow
Will bind with bands the whole fair land,
And make of life a dumb, dead show.
The woods I thread, with solemn tread,
And bow before stern fate my head.
Strange sights and sounds my senses greet,
And everywhere my eyes do meet
Things which surprise, and fill with hope,
Weak mortal men who blindly grope.
While softly fall the sun’s warm beams,
All nature seems to doze in dreams.
‘Twould be the same, in snow or rain,
If tempests raged o’er hill and plain.
Without a frown, what God sends down,
The earth will clasp it as a crown.
The aster fair, the wood’s own child,
The bride of all that’s growing wild,
Its purple cup with gold fills up
And tempts the bee and fly to sup.
Its royal dye the butterfly
Is sure to spy, while sailing by.
Oh potent charm! There’s no alarm,
The air is warm, the day is calm.
No fear can hold the insect bold,
Of winter cold or barren wold.
Why should the wings of gaudy things,
In velvet stripes and satin rings,
Forbear to fly, when blue’s the sky,
And unseen dangers hover nigh?
We laugh, or cry, we live or die,
E’en not a king a day can buy.
With feeble squall the cat-birds call;
They know not spring-time from the fall.
The peewee’s note dies in its throat;
Alas! it sings its song by rote.
The silent snail, with house on back,
Comes out an inch upon its track,
To feel an hour the good sun burn,
And then to cold and darkness turn.
The leafless bush with branches high,
Its scarlet fruit hangs in the sky;
An hundred birds fly out and in,
As hungry trav’lers seek an inn.
They have no faith, and yet they find,
The food best suited to their kind;
And thus ’twill be, if bush and tree
Are barren each as they can be.

All through the wood I find some good —
One needs while there the rightful mood —
The trailing vines that cling and twine
And try to clasp their hands in mine,
Or wind about my wand’ring feet,
As if a human heart they’d greet;
The seeds which cling, with burr or wing,
To all my garments, with them bring,
A message full of truths to me —
The lesson of the shrub and tree,
The sun and flower, bird and bee —
That all which is, whats’er it be,
Fulfills at last its destiny.
No spirit dies, no life is vain,
What goes today shall come again.
Our springtime hopes, our summer dreams,
Live but an hour, then pass away,
Where life is more than here it seems,
Where dawns the endless, perfect day.

Newport Daily News (Newport, Rhode Island) Dec 8, 1876