A Reverie in the Grass

Here let me rest, amid the bearded grass,
Sprinkled with buttercups; and idly pass
One hour of sunshine on the green hill slope:
Watching the rigid clouds, that o'er the cope
Of visible heaven sail quietly along;
Listening the wind, or rustling leaves, or song
Of blackbird, or sweet ringdove in the copse
Of pines and sycamores, whose dark green tops
Form a clear outline right against the blue: —
Here let me lie and dream: losing from view
All vex'd and worldly things; and for one hour
Living such life as green leaf in a bower
Might live; breathing the calm pure air,
Heedless of hope, or fear, or joy, or care.

Oh, it is pleasant in this summer time
To sit alone, and meditate or rhyme:
To hear the bee plying his busy trade,
Or grasshopper alert in sun and shade,
With bright large eyes and ample forehead bald,
Clad in cuirass and cuishes emerald.
Here let me rest, and for a little space
Shut out the world from my abiding place;
Seeing around me nought but grass and bent,
Nothing above me but the firmament;
For such my pleasure, that in solitude
Over my seething fancies I may brood,
Encrucibled and moulded as I list,
And I, expectant as an alchymist.

Oh, beautiful green grass! Earth-covering fair!
What shall be sung of thee, nor bright, nor rare,
Nor highly thought of? Long green grass that waves
By the wayside — over the ancient graves —
Or shoulders of the mountain, looming high —
Or skulls of rocks — bald in their majesty,
Except for thee, that in the crevices
Livest on the nurture of the sun and breeze; —
Adorner of the nude rude breast of hills;
Mantle of meadows; fringe of gushing rills;
Humblest of all the humble: — Thou shalt be,
If to none else, exalted unto me,
And for a time, a type of Joy on Earth —
Joy unobtrusive, of perennial birth,
Common as light and air, and warmth and rain,
And all the daily blessings that in vain
Woo us to gratitude: the earliest born
Of all the juicy verdures that adorn
The fruitful bosom of the kindly soil;
Pleasant to eyes that ache, and limbs that toil.

Lo! as I muse, I see the bristling spears
Of thy seed-bearing stalks, with some, thy peers,
Lift o'er their fellows — nodding to and fro
Their lofty foreheads as the wild winds blow.
And think thy swarming multitudes a host
Drawn up embattled on their native coast,
And officer'd for war: — the spearmen free
Raising their weapons, and the martial bee
Blowing his clarion — while some poppy tall
Displays the blood-red banner over all.

Pleased with the thought, I nurse it for awhile;
And then dismiss it with a faint half smile:
And next I fancy thee a multitude,
Moved by one breath — obedient to the mood
Of one strong thinker — the resistless wind,
That passing o'er thee bends thee to its mind.
See how thy blades, in myriads as they grow,
Turn ever eastward as the west winds blow;
Just as the human crowd is sway'd and bent,
By some great preacher, madly eloquent,
Who moves them at his will, and with a breath
Gives them their bias both in life and death.
Or by some wondrous actor, when he draws
All eyes and hearts, amid a hush'd applause
Not to be utter'd lest delight be marr'd;
Or, greater still, by hymn of prophet-bard,
Who moulds the lazy present by his rhyme,
And sings the glories of a future time.

And ye are happy, green leaves, every one,
Spread in your countless thousands to the sun,
Unlike mankind, no solitary blade
Of all your verdure ever disobey'd
The law of nature: every stalk that lifts
Its head above the mould, enjoys the gifts
Of liberal heaven — the rain, the dew, the light,
And points, though humbly, to the Infinite;
And every leaf, a populous world, maintains
Invisible nations on its wide-stretch'd plains.
So great is littleness! the mind at fault
Betwixt the peopled leaf and starry vault,
Doubts which is grandest, and with holy awe
Adores the God who made them, and whose law
Upholds them in Eternity or Time,
Greatest and least, ineffably sublime.
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