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The Marshes of Glynn


Beautiful glooms, soft dusks in the noonday fire, -
Wildwood privacies, closets of lone desire,
Chamber from chamber parted with wavering arras of

leaves, Cells for the passionate pleasure of prayer to the soul that

grieves, Pure with a sense of the passing of saints through the wood, Cool for the dutiful weighing of ill with good;


And my

O braided dusks of the oak and woven shades of the vine,
While the riotous noonday sun of the June-day long did shine
Ye held me fast in your heart and I held you fast in mine;
But now when the noon is no more, and riot is rest,
And the sun is a-wait at the ponderous gate of the West,
And the slant yellow beam down the wood-aisle doth seem
Like a lane into heaven that leads from a dream,-

my soul all day hath drunken the soul of the oak,

heart is at ease from men, and the wearisome sound of the stroke Of the scythe of time and the trowel of trade is low, And belief overmasters doubt, and I know that I know,

And my spirit is grown to a lordly great compass within, That the length and the breadth and the sweep of the

marshes of Glynn Will work me no fear like the fear they have wrought me of

yore When length was fatigue, and when breadth was but bitter

ness sore, And when terror and shrinking and dreary unnamable pain Drew over me out of the mercileșs miles of the plain,

Oh, now, unafraid, I am fain to face

The vast sweet visage of space.
To the edge of the wood I am drawn, I am drawn,
Where the gray beach glimmering runs, as a belt of the dawn,

For a mete and a mark
To the forest-dark:-

Affable live-oak, leaning low,-


Thus—with your favor-soft, with a reverent hand,
(Not lightly touching your person, Lord of the land!)
Bending your beauty aside, with a step I stand
On the firm-packed sand,

By a world of marsh that borders a world of sea.
Sinuous southward and sinuous northward the shimmering

band Of the sand beach fastens the fringe of the marsh to the

folds of the land. Inward and outward to northward and southward the beach

lines linger and curl As a silver-wrought garment that clings to and follows the

firm sweet limbs of a girl. Vanishing, swerving, evermore curving again into sight, Softly the sand-beach wavers away to a dim gray looping of

light. 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?

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-withhold

ing 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


The Marshes of Glynn


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,

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,

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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]


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 ʼmid 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 (1770-1850]





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,

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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.

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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,

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