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Dirge for the Year


As an earthquake rocks a corse

In its coffin in the clay,
So white Winter, that rough nurse,

Rocks the dead-cold year to-day;
Solemn hours! wail aloud

mother in her shroud.

As the wild air stirs and sways

The tree-swung cradle of a child,
So the breath of these rude days

Rocks the year:—be calm and mild,
Trembling hours; she will arise
With new love within her eyes.

January gray is here,

Like a sexton by her grave; February bears the bier;

March with grief doth howl and rave, And April weeps—but, O, ye hours, Follow with May's fairest flowers.

Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792–1822]




I do not count the hours I spend

In wandering by the sea;
The forest is my loyal friend,

Like God it useth me.

In plains that room for shadows make

Of skirting hills to lie,
Bound in by streams which give and take

Their colors from the sky;

Or on the mountain-crest sublime,

Or down the oaken glade,
O what have I to do with time?

For this the day was made.

Cities of mortals woe-begone

Fantastic care derides,
But in the serious landscape lone

Stern benefit abides.

Sheen will tarnish, honey cloy,

And merry is only a mask of sad,
But, sober on a fund of joy,

The woods at heart are glad.

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“When in the Woods I Wander"


Still on the seeds of all he made

The rose of beauty burns;
Through times that wear and forms that fade,

Immortal youth returns.
The black ducks mounting from the lake,

The pigeon in the pines,
The bittern's boom, a desert make

Which no false art refines.

Down in yon watery nook,

Where bearded mists divide,
The gray old gods whom Chaos knew,

The sires of Nature, hide.

Aloft, in secret veins of air,

Blows the sweet breath of song, O, few to scale those uplands dare,

Though they to all belong!

See thou bring not to field or stone

The fancies found in books;
Leave authors' eyes, and fetch your own,

To brave the landscape's looks.

Oblivion here thy wisdom is,

Thy thrift, the sleep of cares; For a proud idleness like this Crowns all thy mean affairs.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882]



WHEN in the woods I wander all alone,
The woods that are my solace and delight,
Which I more covet than a prince's throne,
My toil by day and canopy by night;
(Light heart, light foot, light food, and slumber light,
These lights shall light us to old age's gate,
While monarchs, whom rebellious dreams affright,
Heavy with fear, death's fearful summons wait;)

Whilst here I wander, pleased to be alone,
Weighing in thought the world's no-happiness,
I cannot choose but wonder at its moan,
Since so plain joys the woody life can bless:
Then live who may where honied words prevail,
I with the deer, and with the nightingale!

Edward Hovell-Thurlow (1781-1829)


Tall, somber, grim, against the morning sky

They rise, scarce touched by melancholy airs, Which stir the fadeless foliage dreamfully,

As if from realms of mystical despairs. Tall, somber, grim, they stand with dusky gleams

Brightening to gold within the woodland's core, Beneath the gracious noontide's tranquil beams,

But the weird winds of morning sigh no more. A stillness, strange, divine, ineffable,

Broods round and o'er them in the wind's surcease, And on each tinted copse and shimmering dell

Rests the mute rapture of deep hearted peace. Last, sunset comes—the solemn joy and might

Borne from the West when cloudless day declinesLow, flute-like breezes sweep the waves of light,

And, lifting dark green tresses of the pines, Till every lock is luminous, gently float,

Fraught with hale odors up the heavens afar, To faint when twilight on her virginal throat Wears for a gem the tremulous vesper star.

Paul Hamilton Hayne (1830-1886]



The wind from out the west is blowing;
The homeward-wandering cows are lowing;
Dark grow the pine-woods, dark and drear,-
The woods that bring the sunset near.

“On Wenlock Edge”


When o'er wide seas the sun declines,
Far off its fading glory shines,-
Far off, sublime, and full of fear,-
The pine-woods bring the sunset near.

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This house that looks to east, to west,
This, dear one, is our home, our rest;
Yonder the stormy sea, and here
The woods that bring the sunset near.

Richard Watson Gilder (1844-1909)


OFT have I walked these woodland paths,

Without the blessed foreknowing That underneath the withered leaves

The fairest buds were growing.

To-day the south-wind sweeps away

The types of autumn's splendor,
And shows the sweet arbutus flowers, –

Spring's children, pure and tender.

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O prophet-flowers!—with lips of bloom,

Outvying in your beauty
The pearly tints of ocean shells, –

Ye teach me faith and duty!

Walk life's dark ways, ye seem to say,

With love's divine foreknowing
That where man sees but withered leaves,
God sees sweet flowers growing.

Albert Laighton (1829–1887]


On Wenlock Edge the wood's in trouble;
His forest fleece the Wrekin heaves;
The gale, it plies the saplings double,
And thick on Severn snow the leaves.

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