Field Notes.

From: Poems (1844)
Author: Christopher Pearse Cranch
Published: Carey and Hart 1844 Philadelphia

Field Notes.

WHERE is he that loves the woods,
At home in all green solitudes;
He whom fashion, fame, or pelf
Have not prisoned in himself,
He who leaveth friend and book,
And findeth both beside a brook;
Heareth wisdom musical
In a low-toned waterfall,
Or the pine grove’s breezy rush,
Or the trilling of a thrush,
Or, when nights are dark and still,
In a plaintive whip-poor-will;
Or when morning suns are bright,
Seeth truths of quiet light
In the landscape green and warm
Of the sloping upland farm!
Let him come and be my friend
Till these summer months shall end.

In this leafy sylvan scene,
Where Nature loves no hue but green,
Nor will let a sound be heard
But of humble-bee or bird,
Or a tall and spreading tree
Rustling still and lonesomely,
Or afar the cattle’s bell,
Tinkling in some hidden dell,
We will leave house, man, and street,
For companionship more sweet:
Children of the summer air,
We will be as once we were,—
Two unconscious idle boys,
And renew Arcadian joys;
Stumbling in our hill-side walks
O’er mushrooms and mullein stalks;
Brushing with our feet away
Spider-webs of silken gray,
Gemmed with dew athwart the meadows,
That sleep in the long morning shadows;
Roaming by some grassy stream,
Where, as in some earlier dream,
Well-known flowers all tall and rank
Blossom on the marshy bank;
Vines that creep, and spikes that nod,
Golden-helmet, golden-rod,
Orchis, milk-weed, elder-bloom,
Brake, sweet-fern and meadow-broom,
Star-shaped mosses on-the rocks,
Golden butter-cups in flocks,
Tossing as the breeze sweeps by
To the blue deeps of the sky;
All those scentless seedy flowers
That chronicle the summer hours:
These shall be our company.
The soliloquizing bee
Hath no need of such as we:
We will let him wander free:
He must labour hotly yet,
Ere the summer sun shall set.
Grumbling little merchant man,
Deft Utilitarian,
Dunning all the idle flowers,
Short to him must be the hours,
As he steereth swiftly over
Fields of warm sweet-scented clover.
Leave him to his own delight,
Little insect Benthamite:
Idler like ourselves alone
Shall we woo to be our crone.

But for him whose cloudy looks
Are bent on law or ledger-books,
Prisoned among the heated bricks,
The slave of traffic, toil and tricks;
For him who worshippeth alone
Beneath the drowsy preacher’s drone,
Where creed and text like fetters cling
Upon the spirit’s struggling wing;
For him whom Fashion’s laws have tamed,
Till the sweet heavens are nigh ashamed
To lead him from his poisoned food
Into their healthy solitude;
Such as these we leave behind,
Blind companions of the blind.
Little know they of the balm,
And the beauty, wise and calm,
Treasured up at Nature’s breast,
For the sick heart that needeth rest.
He who in childlike love hath quaffed
Of her sweet mother-milk one draught,
Hath drank immortal drops as bright
As those which (tales of eld recite)
Untasted fell one starry night
From the fair bosom of heaven’s queen,
Sprinkling the sky with milky sheen:
From the world’s tasteless springs he turns;
His soul with thirst diviner burns,
And nursed upon the lap of Truth,
Wins once again the gift of youth.

Him we will seek, and none but him,
Whose inward sense hath not grown dim;
Whose soul is steeped in Nature’s tinct,
And to the Universal linked;
Who loves the beauteous Infinite
With deep and ever new delight,
And carrieth where’er he goes,
The inborn sweetness of the rose,
The perfume as of Paradise;
The talisman above all price;
The optic glass that wins from far
The meaning of the utmost star;
The key that opes the golden doors

Where earth and heaven have piled their stores;
The magic ring-the enchanter’s wand,—
The title-deed to Wonder-land;
The wisdom that o’erlooketh sense,
The clairvoyance of Innocence.

These rich possessions if he own,
He shall be ours, and he alone.

July, 1842.

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