Poems eBook

Denis Florence MacCarthy
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 151 pages of information about Poems.

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,
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,
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
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,
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
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,
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,
These winding aisles, of human pomp or pride
Report not.  No fantasting 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
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. 
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,
Wells softly forth and visits the strong 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
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,
Ere wore his crown as loftily as he
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,
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 wide universe.

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Project Gutenberg
Poems from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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