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The green trees whispered low and mild;
It was a sound of joy!
They were my playmates when a child,
And rocked me in their arms so wild !
Still they looked at me and smiled,
As if I were a boy ;
And ever whispered, mild and low,
“Come be a child once more !”
And waved their long arms to and fro,
And beckoned solemnly and slow;
O, I could not choose but go,
Into the woodlands hoar;
Into the blithe and breathing air,
Into the solemn wood,
Solemn and silent everywhere !
Nature with folded hands seemed there,
Kneeling at her evening prayer!
Like one in prayer I stood.
Before me rose an avenue Of tall and sombrous pines ; Abroad their fan-like branches grew, And, where the sunshine darted through, Spread a vapor soft and blue, In long and sloping lines.
And, falling on my weary brain,
Like a fast-falling shower,
The dreams of youth came back again ;
Low lispings of the summer rain,
Dropping on the ripened grain,
As once upon the flower.
Visions of childhood ! Stay, 0 stay !
Ye were so sweet and wild !
And distant voices seemed to say,
“ It cannot be! They pass away!
Other themes demand thy lay,
Thou art no more a child !
“ The land of Song within thee lies,
Watered by living springs ;
The lids of Fancy's sleepless eyes
Are gates unto that Paradise,
Holy thoughts, like stars, arise,
Its clouds are angels' wings.
“ Learn, that henceforth thy song shall be,
Not mountains capped with snow,
Nor forests sounding like the sea,
Nor rivers flowing ceaselessly,
Where the woodlands bend to see
The bending heavens below.
“ There is a forest where the din
Of iron branches sounds!
A mighty river roars between,
And whosoever looks therein,
Sees the heavens all black with sin, -
Sees not its depths, nor bounds.
“ Athwart the swinging branches cast,
Soft rays of sunshine pour,
Then comes the fearful wintry blast ;
Our hopes, like withered leaves, fall fast ;
Pallid lips say, 'It is past !
We can return no more!'
“Look then, into thine heart, and write !
Yes, into Life's deep stream!
All forms of sorrow and delight,
All solemn Voices of the Night,
That can soothe thee, or affright, —
Be these henceforth thy theme.”