Poems of Nature

Page 12 of 13

The respectable folks,—
Where dwell they?
They whisper in the oaks,
And they sigh in the hay;
Summer and winter, night and day,
Out on the meadow, there dwell they.
They never die,
Nor snivel, nor cry,
Nor ask our pity
With a wet eye.
A sound estate they ever mend,
To every asker readily lend;
To the ocean wealth,
To the meadow health,{104}
To Time his length,
To the rocks strength,
To the stars light,
To the weary night,
To the busy day,
To the idle play;
And so their good cheer never ends,
For all are their debtors, and all their friends.



If I am poor,
It is that I am proud;
If God has made me naked and a boor,
He did not think it fit his work to shroud.
The poor man comes direct from heaven to earth,
As stars drop down the sky, and tropic beams;
The rich receives in our gross air his birth,
As from low suns are slanted golden gleams.{106}
Yon sun is naked, bare of satellite,
Unless our earth and moon that office hold;
Though his perpetual day feareth no night,
And his perennial summer dreads no cold.
Mankind may delve, but cannot my wealth spend;
If I no partial wealth appropriate,
No armd ships unto the Indies send,
None robs me of my Orient estate.


Conscience is instinct bred in the house,
Feeling and Thinking propagate the sin
By an unnatural breeding in and in.
I say, Turn it out doors,
Into the moors.
I love a life whose plot is simple,
And does not thicken with every pimple,
A soul so sound no sickly conscience binds it,
That makes the universe no worse than't finds it.
I love an earnest soul,
Whose mighty joy and sorrow
Are not drowned in a bowl,
And brought to life to-morrow;{108}
That lives one tragedy,
And not seventy;
A conscience worth keeping,
Laughing not weeping;
A conscience wise and steady,
And for ever ready;
Not changing with events,
Dealing in compliments;
A conscience exercised about
Large things, where one may doubt.
I love a soul not all of wood,
Predestinated to be good,
But true to the backbone
Unto itself alone,
And false to none;
Born to its own affairs,
Its own joys and own cares;{109}
By whom the work which God begun
Is finished, and not undone;
Taken up where he left off,
Whether to worship or to scoff;
If not good, why then evil,
If not good god, good devil.
Goodness!—you hypocrite, come out of that,
Live your life, do your work, then take your hat.
I have no patience towards
Such conscientious cowards.
Give me simple laboring folk,
Who love their work,
Whose virtue is a song
To cheer God along.


'Have you not seen
In ancient times
Pilgrims pass by
Toward other climes?
With shining faces,
Youthful and strong,
Mounting this hill
With speech and with song?'
'Ah, my good sir,
I know not those ways:
Little my knowledge,
Tho' many my days.{111}
When I have slumbered,
I have heard sounds
As of travellers passing
These my grounds:
''Twas a sweet music
Wafted them by,
I could not tell
If afar off or nigh.
Unless I dreamed it,
This was of yore:
I never told it
To mortal before;
'Never remembered
But in my dreams,
What to me waking
A miracle seems.'


In this roadstead I have ridden,
In this covert I have hidden;
Friendly thoughts were cliffs to me,
And I hid beneath their lea.
This true people took the stranger,
And warm-hearted housed the ranger;
They received their roving guest,
And have fed him with the best;
Whatsoe'er the land afforded
To the stranger's wish accorded;{113}
Shook the olive, stripped the vine,
And expressed the strengthening wine.
And by night they did spread o'er him
What by day they spread before him;—
That good-will which was repast
Was his covering at last.
The stranger moored him to their pier
Without anxiety or fear;
By day he walked the sloping land,
By night the gentle heavens he scanned.
When first his barque stood inland
To the coast of that far Finland,
Sweet-watered brooks came tumbling to the shore
The weary mariner to restore.{114}
And still he stayed from day to day,
If he their kindness might repay;
But more and more
The sullen waves came rolling toward the shore.
And still the more the stranger waited,
The less his argosy was freighted,
And still the more he stayed,
The less his debt was paid.
So he unfurled his shrouded mast
To receive the fragrant blast;
And that same refreshing gale
Which had wooed him to remain
Again and again,
It was that filled his sail
And drove him to the main.{115}
All day the low-hung clouds
Dropt tears into the sea;
And the wind amid the shrouds
Sighed plaintively.


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