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To have one moment of thy dawn,
Than share the city's year forlorn.

Henry David Thoreau [1817-1862]


MINE are the night and morning,
The pits of air, the gulf of space,
The sportive sun, the gibbous moon,
The innumerable days.

I hide in the solar glory,

I am dumb in the pealing song,

I rest on the pitch of the torrent,

In slumber I am strong.

No numbers have counted my tallies,
No tribes my house can fill,

I sit by the shining Fount of Life
And pour the deluge still;

And ever by delicate powers

Gathering along the centuries

From race on race the rarest flowers,
My wreath shall nothing miss.

And many a thousand summers
My gardens ripened well,
And light from meliorating stars
With firmer glory fell.

I wrote the past in characters

Of rock and fire the scroll,

The building in the coral sea,

The planting of the coal.

And thefts from satellites and rings

And broken stars I drew,

And out of spent and agèd things

I formed the world anew;

Song of Nature

What time the gods kept carnival,
Tricked out in star and flower,
And in cramp elf and saurian forms
They swathed their too much power.

Time and Thought were my surveyors,
They laid their courses well,

They boiled the sea, and piled the layers
Of granite, marl and shell.

But he, the man-child glorious,—
Where tarries he the while?

The rainbow shines his harbinger,

The sunset gleams his smile.

My boreal lights leap upward,

Forthright my planets roll,

And still the man-child is not born,

The summit of the whole.

Must time and tide forever run?

Will never my winds go sleep in the west?

Will never my wheels which whirl the sun
And satellites have rest?

Too much of donning and doffing,
Too slow the rainbow fades,

I weary of my robe of snow,
My leaves and my cascades;

I tire of globes and races,
Too long the game is played;

What without him is summer's pomp,

Or winter's frozen shade?

I travail in pain for him,

My creatures travail and wait;
His couriers come by squadrons,

He comes not to the gate.


Twice I have moulded an image,
And thrice outstretched my hand,
Made one of day and one of night
And one of the salt sea-sand.

One in a Judæan manger,
And one by Avon stream,

One over against the mouths of Nile,
And one in the Academe.

I moulded kings and saviors,
And bards o'er kings to rule;-

But fell the starry influence short,
The cup was never full.

Yet whirl the glowing wheels once more,
And mix the bowl again;

Seethe, Fate! the ancient elements,

Heat, cold, wet, dry, and peace, and pain.

Let war and trade and creeds and song
Blend, ripen race on race,

The sunburnt world a man shall breed
Of all the zones and countless days.

No ray is dimmed, no atom worn,

My oldest force is good as new,

And the fresh rose on yonder thorn

Gives back the bending heavens in dew.

Ralph Waldo Emerson [1803-1882]


GREAT nature is an army gay,
Resistless marching on its way;
I hear the bugles clear and sweet,
I hear the tread of million feet.
Across the plain I see it pour;
It tramples down the waving grass;
Within the echoing mountain-pass
I hear a thousand cannon roar.

To Mother Nature

It swarms within my garden gate;
My deepest well it drinketh dry.
It doth not rest; it doth not wait;
By night and day it sweepeth by;
Ceaseless it marcheth by my door;
It heeds me not, though I implore.
I know not whence it comes, nor where
It goes.
For me it doth not care-
Whether I starve, or eat, or sleep,
Or live, or die, or sing, or weep.

And now the banners all are bright,
Now torn and blackened by the fight.
Sometimes its laughter shakes the sky,
Sometimes the groans of those who die.


Still through the night and through the livelong day The infinite army marches on its remorseless way.

Richard Watson Gilder [1844-1909]


NATURE, in thy largess, grant
I may be thy confidant!

Taste who will life's roadside cheer
(Though my heart doth hold it dear—
Song and wine and trees and grass,
All the joys that flash and pass),
I must put within my prayer
Gifts more intimate and rare.
Show me how dry branches throw
Such blue shadows on the snow,—
Tell me how the wind can fare
On his unseen feet of air,-
Show me how the spider's loom
Weaves the fabric from her womb,-
Lead me to those brooks of morn
Where a woman's laugh is born,—
Let me taste the sap that flows
Through the blushes of a rose,

Yea, and drain the blood which runs
From the heart of dying suns,—
Teach me how the butterfly
Guessed at immortality,—

Let me follow up the track

Of Love's deathless Zodiac

Where Joy climbs among the spheres
Circled by her moon of tears,—
Tell me how, when I forget

All the schools have taught me, yet
I recall each trivial thing

In a golden, far-off Spring,-
Give me whispered hints how I
May instruct my heart to fly
Where the baffling Vision gleams
Till I overtake my dreams,

And the impossible be done

When the Wish and Deed grow one!

Frederic Lawrence Knowles [1869-1905]


HERE in this wild, primeval dell
Far from the haunts of man,
Where never fashion's footsteps fell,
Where shriek of steam nor clang of bell,

Nor din of those who buy and sell,

Has broken Nature's perfect spell,

May not one hear, who listens well,
The mystic pipe of Pan?

So virgin and unworldly seem

All things in this deep glade

Thick-curtained from the noonday beam,
That, hearkening, one may almost dream
Fair naiads plashing in the stream,
While graceful limbs and tresses gleam
Along the dim green shade.

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