White Pond

Gem of the wood and playmate of the sky,
How glad on thee we rest a weary eye,
When the late ploughman from the field goes home,
And leaves us free thy solitudes to roam!
Thy sand the naiad gracefully had pressed,
Thy proud majestic grove the nymph caressed,
Who with cold Dian roamed thy virgin shade,
And, clothed in chastity, the chase delayed,
To the close ambush hastening at high noon,
When the hot locust spins his Zendic rune.

Here might Apollo touch the soothing lyre,
As through the darkening pines the day's low fire
Sadly burns out; or Venus nigh delay
With young Adonis, while the moon's still ray
Mellows the fading foliage, as the sky
Throws her blue veil of twilight mystery.

No Greece to-day; no dryad haunts the road
Where sun-burned farmers their poor cattle goad;
The black crow caws above yon steadfast pine,
And soft Mitchella's odorous blooms entwine
These mossy rocks, where piteous catbirds scream,
And Redskins flicker through the white man's dream.
Who haunts thy wood-path?—ne'er in summer pressed
Save by the rabbit's foot; its winding best
Kept a sure secret, till the tracks, in snow
Dressed for their sleds, the lumbering woodmen plough.

How soft yon sunbeam paints the hoary trunk,
How fine the glimmering leaves to shadow sunk!
Then streams across our grassy road the line
Drawn firmly on the sward by the straight pine;
And curving swells in front our feet allure,
While far behind the curving swells endure;
Silent, if half pervaded by the hum
Of the contented cricket. Nature's sum
Is infinite devotion. Days nor time
She emulates,—nurse of a perfect prime.
Herself the spell, free to all hearts; the spring
Of multiplied contentment, if the ring
With which we're darkly bound.
The pleasant road
Winds as if Beauty here familiar trode;
Her touch the devious curve persuasive laid,
Her tranquil forethought each bright primrose stayed
In its right nook. And where the glorious sky
Shines in, and bathes the verdant canopy,
The prospect smiles delighted, while the day
Contemns the village street and white highway.

Creature all beauteous! In thy future state
Let beauteous Thought a just contrivance date;
Let altars glance along thy lonely shore,
Relumed; and on thy leafy forest floor
Tributes be strewn to some divinity
Of cheerful mien and rural sanctity.
Pilgrims might dancing troop their souls to heal;
Cordials, that now the shady coves conceal,
Reft from thy crystal shelves, we should behold,
And by their uses be thy charms controlled.

Naught save the sallow herdsboy tempts the shore,
His charge neglecting, while his feet explore
Thy shallow margins, when the August flame
Burns on thy edge and makes existence tame;
Naught save the blue king-fisher rattling past,
Or leaping fry that breaks his lengthened fast;
Naught save the falling hues when Autumn's sigh
Beguiles the maple to a sad reply;
Or some peculiar air a sapless leaf
Guides o'er thy ocean by its compass brief.

Save one, whom often here glad Nature found
Seated beneath yon thorn, or on the ground
Poring content, when frosty Autumn bore
Of wilding fruit to earth that bitter store;
And when the building winter spanned in ice
Thy trembling limbs, soft lake! then each device
Traced in white figures on thy seamed expanse
This child of problems caught in gleeful trance.
Oh, welcome he to thrush and various jay,
And echoing veery, period of the day!
To each clear hyla trilling the new spring,
And late gray goose buoyed on his icy wing;
Bold walnut-buds admire the gentle hand,
While the shy sassafras their rings expand
On his approach, and thy green forest wave,
White Pond! to him fraternal greetings gave.
The far white clouds that fringe the topmost pine
For his delight their fleecy folds decline;
The sunset worlds melted their ores for him,
And lightning touched his thought to seraphim.

Clear wave, thou wert not vainly made, I know,
Since this sweet man of Nature thee could owe
A genial hour, some hope that flies afar,
And revelations from thy guiding star.
Oh, may that muse, of purer ray, recount,
White Pond! thy glory; and, while anthems mount
In strains of splendor, rich as sky and air,
Thy praise, my Henry, might those verses share.
For He who made the lake made it for thee,
So good and great, so humble, yet so free;
And waves and woods we cannot fairly prove,
Like souls, descended from celestial Jove.

With thee he is associate, Hence I love
Thy gleams, White Pond! thy dark, familiar grove;
Thy deep green shadows, clefts of pasture ground;
Mayhap a distant bleat the single sound,
One distant cloud, the sailor of the sky,
One voice, to which my inmost thoughts reply.
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