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4.5.4: “Fallen Forests” (1854)

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    Man’s warfare on the trees is terrible.
    He lifts his rude hut in the wilderness,
    And lo! the loftiest trunks that age on age
    Were nurtured to nobility, and bore
    Their summer coronets so gloriously,
    Fall with a thunder-sound, to rise no more
    He toucheth flame unto them, and they lie
    A blackened wreck, their tracery and wealth
    Of sky-fed emerald,madly spent to feed
    An arch of brilliance for a single night,
    And scaring thence the wild deer and the fox,
    And the lithe squirrel from the nut strewn home,
    So long enjoyed.

    He lifts his puny arm,
    And every echo of the axe doth hew
    The iron heart of centuries away.
    He entereth boldly to the solemn groves
    On whose green altar-tops, since time was young,
    The winged birds have poured their incense strain
    Of praise and love, within whose mighty nave
    The wearied cattle from a thousand hills
    Have found their shelter ‘mid the heat of day;
    Perchance in their mute worship leasing Him

    Who careth for the meanest He hath made.
    I said he entereth to the sacred groves
    Where Nature in her beauty bends to God,
    And lo! their temple-arch is desecrate;
    Sinks the sweet hymn, the ancient ritual fades,
    And uptorn roots, and prostrate columns mark
    The invader’s footsteps.

    Silent years roll on,
    His babes are men His ant heap dwelling grows
    Too narrow, for his hand hath gotten wealth.
    He builds a stately mansion, but it stands
    Unblessed by trees. He smote them recklessly
    When their green arms were round him, as a guard
    Of tutelary deities, and feels

    Their maledictions, now the burning noon
    Maketh his spirit faint. With anxious care
    He casteth acorns in the earth, and woos
    Sunbeam and rain: he planteth the young shoot,
    And props it from the storm; but neither he,
    Nor yet his children’s children shall behold
    What he hath swept away

    Methinks ‘twere well,
    Not as a spoiler or a thief, to roam
    O’er Nature’s bosom that sweet, gentle nurse
    Who loveth us, and spreads a sheltering couch
    When our brief task is o’er. On that green mound
    Affection’s hand may set the willow-tree,
    Or train the cypress, and let none profane
    Her pious care.

    Oh, Father! grant us grace
    In all life’s toils so with a stedfast hand
    Evil and good to poise, as not to mark
    Our way with wrecks, not when the sands of time
    Run low, with saddened eye the past survey,
    And mourn the rashness time can ne’er restore

    4.5.4: “Fallen Forests” (1854) is shared under a not declared license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by LibreTexts.

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