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.
 
V. Trees: Flowers: Plants
Among the Redwoods
Edward Rowland Sill (1841–1887)
 
FAREWELL to such a world! Too long I press
  The crowded pavement with unwilling feet.
Pity makes pride, and hate breeds hatefulness,
  And both are poisons. In the forest sweet
The shade, the peace! Immensity, that seems        5
To drown the human life of doubts and dreams.
 
Far off the massive portals of the wood,
  Buttressed with shadow, misty-blue, serene,
Waited my coming. Speedily I stood
  Where the dun wall rose roofed in plumy green.        10
Dare one go in?—Glance backward! Dusk as night
Each column, fringed with sprays of amber light.
 
Let me, along this fallen bole, at rest,
  Turn to the cool, dim roof my glowing face.
Delicious dark on weary eyelids prest!        15
  Enormous solitude of silent space,
But for a low and thunderous ocean sound,
Too far to hear, felt thrilling through the ground.
 
No stir nor call the sacred hush profanes;
  Save when from some bare tree-top, far on high,        20
Fierce disputations of the clamorous cranes
  Fall muffled, as from out the upper sky.
So still, one dreads to wake the dreaming air,
Breaks a twig softly, moves the foot with care.
 
The hollow dome is green with empty shade,        25
  Struck through with slanted shafts of afternoon;
Aloft, a little rift of blue is made,
  Where slips a ghost that last night was the moon.
Beside its pearl a sea-cloud stays its wing,
Beneath, a tilted hawk is balancing.        30
 
The heart feels not in every time and mood
  What is around it. Dull as any stone
I lay; then, like a darkening dream, the wood
  Grew Karnac’s temple, where I breathed alone
In the awed air strange incense, and uprose        35
Dim, monstrous columns in their dread repose.
 
The mind not always sees; but if there shine
  A bit of fern-lace bending over moss,
A silky glint that rides a spider-line,
  On a trefoil two shadow spears that cross,        40
Three grasses that toss up their nodding heads,
With spring and curve like clustered fountain-threads,
 
Suddenly, through side windows of the eye,
  Deep solitudes, where never souls have met;
Vast spaces, forest corridors that lie        45
  In a mysterious world, unpeopled yet.
Because the outward eye was elsewhere caught,
The awfulness and wonder come unsought.
 
If death be but resolving back again
  Into the world’s deep soul, this is a kind        50
Of quiet, happy death, untouched by pain
  Or sharp reluctance. For I feel my mind
Is interfused with all I hear and see;
As much a part of All as cloud or tree.
 
Listen! A deep and solemn wind on high;        55
  The shafts of shining dust shift to and fro;
The columned trees sway imperceptibly,
  And creak as mighty masts when trade-winds blow.
The cloudy sails are set; the earth ship swings
Along the sea of space to grander things.        60
 
 
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