O NATURE! I do not aspire
To be the highest in thy quire, –
To be a meteor in the sky,
Or comet that may range on high ;
Only a zephyr that may blow
Among the reeds by the river low ;
Give me thy most privy place
Where to run my airy race.
In some withdrawn, unpublic mead
Let me sigh upon a reed,
Or in the woods, with leafy din,
Whisper the still evening in
Some still work give me to do, –
Only – be it near to you!
For I’d rather be thy child
And pupil, in the forest wild,
Than be the eking of men elsewhere,
And most sovereign slave of care
To have one moment of thy dawn,
Than share the city’s year forlorn.
WHATE’ ER we leave to God, God does,
And blesses us;
The work we choose should be our own,
God leaves alone.
IF with light head erect I sing,
Though all the Muses lend their force,
From my poor love of anything,
The verse is weak and shallow as its source.
But if with bended neck I grope,
Listening behind me for my twit,
With faith superior to hope,
More anxious to keep back than forward it,
Making my soul accomplice there
Unto the flame my heart bath lit,
Then will the verse forever wear, –
Time cannot bend the line which God hath writ.
Always the general show of things
Floats in review before my mind,
And such true love and reverence brings,
That Sometimes I forget that I am blind.
But now there comes unsought, unseen,
Some clear divine electuary,
And I, who had but sensual been,
Grow sensible, and as God is, am wary.
I hearing get, who had but ears,
And sight, who had but eyes before ;
I moments live, who lived but years,
And truth discern, who knew but learning’s lore.
I hear beyond the range of sound,
I see beyond the range of sight,
New earths and skies and seas around,
And in my day the sun doth pale his light.
A clear and ancient harmony
Pierces my soul through all its din,
As through its utmost melody, –
Farther behind than they, farther within.
More swift its bolt than lightning is,
Its voice than thunder is more loud,
it doth expand my privacies
To all, and leave me single in the crowd.
It speaks with such authority,
With so serene and lofty tone,
That idle Time runs gadding by,
And leaves me with Eternity alone.
Then chiefly is my natal hour,
And only then my prime of life ;
Of manhood’s strength it is the flower,
‘T is peace’s end, and war’s beginning strife.
‘T hath come in summer’s broadest noon,
By a gray wall or some chance place,
Unseasoned time, insulted June,
And vexed the day with its presuming face.
Such fragrance round my couch it makes,
More rich than are Arabian drugs,
That my soul scents its life and wakes
The body up beneath its perfumed rugs.
Such is the Muse, the heavenly maid,
The star that guides our mortal course,
Which shows where life’s true kernel’s laid,
Its wheat’s fine flour, and its undying force.
She with one breath attunes the spheres,
And also my poor human heart,
With one impulse propels the years
Around, and gives my throbbing pulse its start.
I will not doubt for evermore,
Nor falter from a steadfast faith,
For though the system be turned o’er,
God takes not back the word which once he saith.
I will, then, trust the love untold
Which not my worth nor want has bought,
Which wooed me ,young, and wooes me old .
And to this evening bath me brought.
My memory I’ll educate
To know the one historic truth,
Remembering to the latest date
The only true and sole immortal youth.
Be but thy inspiration given,
No matter through what danger sought,
I’ll fathom hell or climb to heaven,
And yet esteem that cheap which love has bought.
Fame cannot tempt the bard
Who’s famous with his God,
Nor laurel him reward
Who hath his Maker’s nod.
THE AURORA OF GUIDOI
THE god of day his car rolls up the slopes,
Reining his prancing steeds with steady hand;
The lingering moon through western shadows gropes,
While morning sheds its light o’er sea and land.
Castles and cities by the sounding main
Resound with all the busy din of life;
The fisherman unfurls his sails again;
And the recruited warrior bides the strife.
The early breeze ruffles the poplar leaves;
The curling waves reflect the unseen light;
1. [“Suggested by the print of Guido’s `Aurora’ sent by Mrs. Carlyle
as a wedding gift to Mrs. Emerson.” (Note in Poems of Nature .)]