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In still and silent slumber hushed

All Nature seemed to be:
From heaven above, or earth beneath,

No whisper came to me
Except the solemn sound and sad


A hollow, hollow, hollow sound,

As is that dreamy roar
When distant billows boil and bound

Along a shingly shore
But the ocean brim was far aloof,

A hundred miles or more.

No murmur of the gusty sea,

No tumult of the beach, However they may foam and fiet,

The bounded sense could reachMethought the trees in mystic tongue

Were talking each to each!

Mayhap, rehearsing ancient tales
Of greenwood love or guilt,

Of whispered vows

Beneath their boughs ;
Or blood obscurely spilt ;
Or of that near-hand mansion-house

A royal Tudor built.

Perchance, of booty won or shared

Beneath the starry cope -
Or where the suicidal wretch

Hung up the fatal rope;
Or Beauty kept an evil tryste,
Ensnared by Love and Hope.

Of graves, perchance, untimely scooped

At midnight dark and dank And what is underneath the sod Whereon the grass is rank.-

Of old intrigues,

And privy leagues,
Tradition leaves in blank.

Of traitor lips that muttered plots

Of kin who fought and fell -
God knows the undiscovered schemes,

The arts and acts of hell,
Performed long generations since,

If trees had tongues to tell !

With wary eyes, and ears alert,

As one who walks afraid,
I wandered down the dappled path

Of mingled light and shade
How sweetly gleamed that arch of blue

Beyond the green arcade!

How cheerly shone the glimpse of heaven

Beyond that verdant aisle !
All overarched with lofty elms,
That quenched the light, the while,

As dim and chill

As serves to fill
Some old cathedral pile !

And many a gnarléd trunk was there,

That ages long had stood,
Till Time had wrought them into shapes

Like Pan's fantastic brood;
Or still more foul and hideous forms

That pagans carve in wood !

A crouching Satyr lurking here

And there a Goblin grim As staring full of demon life

As Gothic sculptor's whim A marvel it had scarcely been

To hear a voice from him!

Some whisper from that horrid mouth

Of strange, unearthly tone;
Or wild infernal laugh, to chill

One's marrow in the bone.
But no -- it grins like rigid Death,

And silent as a stone!

As silent as its fellows be,

For all is mute with them
The branch that climbs the leafy roof-
The rough and mossy stem

The crooked root,

And tender shoot,
Where hangs the dewy gem.

One mystic tree alone there is,

Of sad and solemn sound
That sometimes murmurs overhead,

And sometimes underground
In all that shady avenue,

Where lofty elms abound.


The scene is changed! No green arcade,

No trees all ranged a-row

But scattered like a beaten host,

Dispersing to and fro; With here and there a sylvan corse,

That fell before the foe.

The foe that down in yonder dell

Pursues his daily toil ; As witness many a prostrate trunk,

Bereft of leafy spoil, Hard by its wooden stump, whereon

The adder loves to coil.

Alone he works

his ringing blows Have banished bird and beast; The hind and fawn have cantered off

A hundred yards at least; And on the maple's lofty top

The linnet's song has ceased.

No eye his labor overlooks,

Or when he takes his rest; Except the timid thrush that peeps

Above her secret nest,
Forbid by love to leave the young

Beneath her speckled breast.

The woodman's heart is in his work,

His axe is sharp and good ; With sturdy arm and steady aim He smites the gaping wood;

From distant rocks

His lusty knocks
Reëcho many a rood.

His axe is keen, his arm is strong;

The muscles serve him well;
His years have reached an extra span,

The number none can tell ;
But still his life-long task has been

The timber tree to fell.

Through summer's parching sultriness
And winter's freezing cold,

From sapling youth

To virile growth, And age's rigid mould, His energetic axe hath rung

Within that forest old.

Aloft, upon his poising steel

The vivid sunbeams glance -
About his head and round his feet

The forest shadows dance ;
And bounding from his russet coat

The acorn drops askance.
His face is like a Druid's face,

With wrinkles furrowed deep,
And tanned by scorching suns as brown

As corn that's ripe to reap ;
But the hair on brow, and cheek, and chin,

Is white as wool of sheep.
His frame is like a giant's frame;

His legs are long and stark;
His arms like limbs of knotted yew;
His hands like rugged bark ;

So he felleth still,

With right good will,
As if to build an ark !

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