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- The Home Book of Verse, Volume 3 - 30/88 -


And what if behind me to westward the wall of the woods stands high? The world lies east: how ample, the marsh and the sea and the sky! A league and a league of marsh-grass, waist-high, broad in the blade, Green, and all of a height, and unflecked with a light or a shade, Stretch leisurely off, in a pleasant plain, To the terminal blue of the main.

Oh, what is abroad in the marsh and the terminal sea? Somehow my soul seems suddenly free From the weighing of fate and the sad discussion of sin, By the length and the breadth and the sweep of the marshes of Glynn.

Ye marshes, how candid and simple and nothing-withholding and free Ye publish yourselves to the sky and offer yourselves to the sea! Tolerant plains, that suffer the sea and the rains and the sun, Ye spread and span like the catholic man who hath mightily won God out of knowledge and good out of infinite pain And sight out of blindness and purity out of a stain.

As the marsh-hen secretly builds on the watery sod, Behold I will build me a nest on the greatness of God: I will fly in the greatness of God as the marsh-hen flies In the freedom that fills all the space 'twixt the marsh and the skies: By so many roots as the marsh-grass sends in the sod I will heartily lay me a-hold on the greatness of God: Oh, like to the greatness of God is the greatness within The range of the marshes, the liberal marshes of Glynn.

And the sea lends large, as the marsh: lo, out of his plenty the sea Pours fast: full soon the time of the flood-tide must be: Look how the grace of the sea doth go About and about through the intricate channels that flow Here and there, Everywhere, Till his waters have flooded the uttermost creeks and the low-lying lanes, And the marsh is meshed with a million veins, That like as with rosy and silvery essences flow In the rose-and-silver evening glow. Farewell, my lord Sun! The creeks overflow: a thousand rivulets run 'Twixt the roots of the sod; the blades of the marsh-grass stir; Passeth a hurrying sound of wings that westward whirr; Passeth, and all is still; and the currents cease to run; And the sea and the marsh are one.

How still the plains of the waters be! The tide is in his ecstasy; The tide is at his highest height: And it is night.

And now from the Vast of the Lord will the waters of sleep Roll in on the souls of men, But who will reveal to our waking ken The forms that swim and the shapes that creep Under the waters of sleep? And I would I could know what swimmeth below when the tide comes in On the length and the breadth of the marvelous marshes of Glynn.

Sidney Lanier [1842-1881]

THE TROSACHS

There's not a nook within this solemn Pass But were an apt confessional for one Taught by his summer spent, his autumn gone, That Life is but a tale of morning grass Withered at eve. From scenes of art which chase That thought away, turn, and with watchful eyes Feed it 'mid Nature's old felicities, Rocks, rivers, and smooth lakes more clear than glass Untouched, unbreathed upon. Thrice happy quest, If from a golden perch of aspen spray (October's workmanship to rival May) The pensive warbler of the ruddy breast That moral sweeten by a heaven-taught lay, Lulling the year, with all its cares, to rest!

William Wordsworth [1700-1850]

HYMN Before Sunrise, In The Vale Of Chamouni

Hast thou a charm to stay the morning-star In his steep course? So long he seems to pause On thy bald, awful head, O sovereign Blanc! The Arve and Arveiron at thy base Rave ceaselessly; but thou, most awful Form, Risest from forth thy silent sea of pines, How silently! Around thee and above Deep is the air and dark, substantial, black, An ebon mass: methinks thou piercest it, As with a wedge! But when I look again, It is thine own calm home, thy crystal shrine, Thy habitation from eternity! O dread and silent Mount! I gazed upon thee, Till thou, still present to the bodily sense, Didst vanish from my thought: entranced in prayer I worshiped the Invisible alone.

Yet, like some sweet beguiling melody, So sweet, we know not we are listening to it, Thou, the meanwhile, wast blending with my thought, Yea, with my Life and Life's own secret joy: Till the dilating Soul, enrapt, transfused, Into the mighty vision passing - there, As in her natural form, swelled vast to Heaven!

Awake, my soul! not only passive praise Thou owest! not alone these swelling tears, Mute thanks and secret ecstasy! Awake, Voice of sweet song! Awake, my Heart, awake! Green vales and icy cliffs, all join my Hymn.

Thou first and chief, sole sovereign of the Vale! O, struggling with the darkness all the night, And visited all night by troops of stars, Or when they climb the sky or when they sink: Companion of the morning-star at dawn, Thyself Earth's rosy star, and of the dawn Co-herald: wake, O wake, and utter praise! Who sank thy sunless pillars deep in Earth? Who filled thy countenance with rosy light? Who made thee parent of perpetual streams?

And you, ye five wild torrents fiercely glad! Who called you forth from night and utter death, From dark and icy caverns called you forth, Down those precipitous, black, jagged rocks, For ever shattered and the same for ever? Who gave you your invulnerable life, Your strength, your speed, your fury, and your joy, Unceasing thunder and eternal foam? And who commanded (and the silence came), Here let the billows stiffen, and have rest?

Ye ice-falls! ye that from the mountain's brow Adown enormous ravines slope amain - Torrents, methinks, that heard a mighty voice, And stopped at once amid their maddest plunge! Motionless torrents! silent cataracts! Who made you glorious as the Gates of Heaven Beneath the keen full moon? Who bade the sun Clothe you with rainbows? Who, with living flowers Of loveliest blue, spread garlands at your feet? - God! let the torrents, like a shout of nations, Answer! and let the ice-plains echo, God! God! sing ye meadow-streams with gladsome voice! Ye pine-groves, with your soft and soul-like sounds! And they too have a voice, yon piles of snow, And in their perilous fall shall thunder, God!

Ye living flowers that skirt the eternal frost! Ye wild goats sporting round the eagle's nest! Ye eagles, playmates of the mountain-storm! Ye lightnings, the dread arrows of the clouds! Ye signs and wonders of the elements! Utter forth God, and fill the hills with praise!

Thou too, hoar Mount! with thy sky-pointing peaks, Oft from whose feet the avalanche, unheard, Shoots downward, glittering through the pure serene, Into the depth of clouds that veil thy breast - Thou too again, stupendous Mountain! thou That as I raise my head, awhile bowed low In adoration, upward from thy base Slow traveling with dim eyes suffused with tears, Solemnly seemest, like a vapory cloud, To rise before me - Rise, O ever rise! Rise like a cloud of incense, from the Earth! Thou kingly Spirit throned among the hills, Thou dread ambassador from Earth to Heaven, Great Hierarch! tell thou the silent sky, And tell the stars, and tell yon rising sun, Earth, with her thousand voices, praises God.

Samuel Taylor Coleridge [1772-1834]

THE PEAKS

In the night Gray, heavy clouds muffled the valleys, And the peaks looked toward God alone. "O Master, that movest the wind with a finger, Humble, idle, futile peaks are we. Grant that we may run swiftly across the world To huddle in worship at Thy feet."

In the morning A noise of men at work came through the clear blue miles, And the little black cities were apparent. "O Master, that knowest the meaning of raindrops, Humble, idle, futile peaks are we. Give voice to us, we pray, O Lord, That we may sing Thy goodness to the sun."

In the evening The far valleys were sprinkled with tiny lights.


The Home Book of Verse, Volume 3 - 30/88

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