Verse > Anthologies > Ralph Waldo Emerson, ed. > Parnassus: An Anthology of Poetry
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Ralph Waldo Emerson, comp. (1803–1882).  Parnassus: An Anthology of Poetry.  1880.
 
The Wood-Fire
By Ellen Sturgis Hooper (1812–1848)
 
    THIS bright wood-fire,
  So like to that which warmed and lit
    My youthful days,—how doth it flit
    Back on the periods nigher!
Re-lighting and re-warming with its glow        5
The bright scenes of my youth,—all gone out now.
How eagerly its flickering blaze doth catch
On every point now wrapped in time’s deep shade!
Into what wild grotesqueness by its flash
And fitful checkering is the picture made!        10
    When I am glad or gay,
Let me walk forth into the brilliant sun,
And with congenial rays be shone upon:
When I am sad, or thought-bewitched would be,
Let me glide forth in moonlight’s mystery,        15
But never, while I live this changeful life,
This past and future with all wonders rife,
Never, bright flame, may be denied to me
Thy dear, life-imaging, close sympathy.
What but my hopes shot upwards e’er so bright?        20
What but my fortunes sank so low in night?
Why art thou banished from our hearth and hall,
Thou who art welcomed and beloved by all?
Was thy existence then too fanciful
For our life’s common light, who are so dull?        25
Did thy bright gleam mysterious converse hold
With our congenial souls? secrets too bold?
Well, we are safe and strong; for now we sit
Beside a hearth where no dim shadows flit;
Where nothing cheers nor saddens, but a fire        30
Warms feet and hands, nor does to more aspire;
By whose compact, utilitarian heap,
The present may sit down and go to sleep,
Nor fear the ghosts who from the dim past walked,
And with us by the unequal light of the old wood-fire talked.        35
 
 
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