Poems of Nature

Page 10 of 13

The sluggish smoke curls up from some deep dell,
The stiffened air exploring in the dawn,
And making slow acquaintance with the day;
Delaying now upon its heavenward course,
In wreathd loiterings dallying with itself,
With as uncertain purpose and slow deed,
As its half-wakened master by the hearth,
Whose mind, still slumbering, and sluggish thoughts
Have not yet swept into the onward current
Of the new day;—and now it streams afar,
The while the chopper goes with step direct,
And mind intent to wield the early axe.{83}
First in the dusky dawn he sends abroad
His early scout, his emissary, smoke,
The earliest, latest pilgrim from the roof,
To feel the frosty air, inform the day;
And while he crouches still beside the hearth,
Nor musters courage to unbar the door,
It has gone down the glen with the light wind,
And o'er the plain unfurled its venturous wreath,
Draped the tree-tops, loitered upon the hill,
And warmed the pinions of the early bird;
And now, perchance, high in the crispy air,
Has caught sight of the day o'er the earth's edge,
And greets its master's eye at his low door,
As some refulgent cloud in the upper sky.


Within the circuit of this plodding life
There enter moments of an azure hue,
Untarnished fair as is the violet
Or anemone, when the spring strews them
By some meandering rivulet, which make
The best philosophy untrue that aims
But to console man for his grievances.
I have remembered when the winter came,
High in my chamber in the frosty nights,
When in the still light of the cheerful moon,
On every twig and rail and jutting spout,
The icy spears were adding to their length
Against the arrows of the coming sun,—
How in the shimmering noon of summer past{85}
Some unrecorded beam slanted across
The upland pastures where the johnswort grew;
Or heard, amid the verdure of my mind,
The bee's long smothered hum, on the blue flag
Loitering amidst the mead; or busy rill,
Which now through all its course stands still and dumb,
Its own memorial,—purling at its play
Along the slopes, and through the meadows next,
Until its youthful sound was hushed at last
In the staid current of the lowland stream;
Or seen the furrows shine but late upturned,
And where the fieldfare followed in the rear,
When all the fields around lay bound and hoar
Beneath a thick integument of snow:—
So by God's cheap economy made rich,
To go upon my winter's task again.


When Winter fringes every bough
With his fantastic wreath,
And puts the seal of silence now
Upon the leaves beneath;
When every stream in its pent-house
Goes gurgling on its way,
And in his gallery the mouse
Nibbleth the meadow hay;
Methinks the summer still is nigh,
And lurketh underneath,
As that same meadow-mouse doth lie
Snug in that last year's heath.{87}
And if perchance the chicadee
Lisp a faint note anon,
The snow is summer's canopy,
Which she herself put on.
Fair blossoms deck the cheerful trees,
And dazzling fruits depend;
The north wind sighs a summer breeze,
The nipping frosts to fend,
Bringing glad tidings unto me,
The while I stand all ear,
Of a serene eternity,
Which need not winter fear.
Out on the silent pond straightway
The restless ice doth crack,{88}
And pond-sprites merry gambols play
Amid the deafening rack.
Eager I hasten to the vale,
As if I heard brave news,
How Nature held high festival,
Which it were hard to lose.
I gambol with my neighbor ice,
And sympathising quake,
As each new crack darts in a trice
Across the gladsome lake.
One with the cricket in the ground,
And fagot on the hearth,
Resounds the rare domestic sound
Along the forest path.


I saw the civil sun drying earth's tears,
Her tears of joy that only faster flowed.
Fain would I stretch me by the highway side
To thaw and trickle with the melting snow;
That mingled, soul and body, with the tide,
I too may through the pores of nature flow.


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