Verse > Anthologies > The World’s Best Poetry > Vol. V. Nature
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Bliss Carman, et al., eds.  The World’s Best Poetry.
Volume V. Nature.  1904.
 
IV. Inland Waters: Highlands
The Shaded Water
William Gilmore Simms (1806–1870)
 
WHEN that my mood is sad, and in the noise
  And bustle of the crowd I feel rebuke,
I turn my footsteps from its hollow joys
  And sit me down beside this little brook;
The waters have a music to mine ear        5
    It glads me much to hear.
 
It is a quiet glen, as you may see,
  Shut in from all intrusion by the trees,
That spread their giant branches, broad and free,
  The silent growth of many centuries;        10
And make a hallowed time for hapless moods,
    A sabbath of the woods.
 
Few know its quiet shelter,—none, like me,
  Do seek it out with such a fond desire,
Poring in idlesse mood on flower and tree,        15
  And listening as the voiceless leaves respire,—
When the far-travelling breeze, done wandering,
    Rests here his weary wing.
 
And all the day, with fancies ever new,
  And sweet companions from their boundless store,        20
Of merry elves bespangled all with dew,
  Fantastic creatures of the old-time lore,
Watching their wild but unobtrusive play,
    I fling the hours away.
 
A gracious couch—the root of an old oak        25
  Whose branches yield it moss and canopy—
Is mine, and, so it be from woodman’s stroke
  Secure, shall never be resigned by me;
It hangs above the stream that idly flies,
    Heedless of any eyes.        30
 
There, with eye sometimes shut, but upward bent,
  Sweetly I muse through many a quiet hour,
While every sense on earnest mission sent,
  Returns, thought-laden, back with bloom and flower;
Pursuing, though rebuked by those who moil,        35
    A profitable toil.
 
And still the waters, trickling at my feet,
  Wind on their way with gentlest melody,
Yielding sweet music, which the leaves repeat,
  Above them, to the gay breeze gliding by,—        40
Yet not so rudely as to send one sound
    Through the thick copse around.
 
Sometimes a brighter cloud than all the rest
  Hangs o’er the archway opening through the trees,
Breaking the spell that, like a slumber, pressed        45
  On my worn spirit its sweet luxuries,—
And with awakened vision upward bent,
    I watch the firmament.
 
How like its sure and undisturbed retreat—
  Life’s sanctuary at last, secure from storm—        50
To the pure waters trickling at my feet,
  The bending trees that overshade my form!
So far as sweetest things of earth may seem
    Like those of which we dream.
 
Such, to my mind, is the philosophy        55
  The young bird teaches, who, with sudden flight,
Sails far into the blue that spreads on high,
  Until I lose him from my straining sight,—
With a most lofty discontent to fly
    Upward, from earth to sky.        60
 
 
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