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For you harken on your right hand
In the greenwood, out of sight and
And the squirrels crack the filberts through their cheerful madrigal.
On your left the sheep are cropping
And five apple-trees stand dropping
Separate shadows towards the vale
Over which, in choral silence, the hills look you their "All hail ! "
Far out, kindled by each other,
Close as brother leans to brother
When they press beneath the eyes
Of some father praying blessings from the gifts of
While beyond, above them mounted,
Malvern hills, for mountains counted
Not unduly, loom a-row
Keepers of Piers Plowman's visions through the sunshine
and the snow.
Yet, in childhood, little prized I
'T was a straight walk unadvised by
The least mischief worth a nay;
Up and down-as dull as grammar on the eve of holiday.
But the wood, all close and clenching,
No more sky (for over-branching)
Oh, the wood drew me within it by a glamour past dispute !
Few and broken paths showed through it,
Forced with snowy wool to strew it
Round the thickets, when anon
They, with silly thorn-pricked noses, bleated back into the sun.
But my childish heart beat stronger
Sheep for sheep-paths! braver children climb and creep where they would go.
And the poets wander (said I)
Over places all as rude :
Sat to meet him in a wood :
Rosalinda, like a fountain, laughed out pure with solitude.
And if Chaucer had not travelled
Through a forest by a well,
He had never dreamt nor marvelled
At those ladies fair and fell
Who lived smiling without loving in their island-citadel.
Thus I thought of the old singers,
And took courage from their song,
Of the brambles which entrapped me, and the barrier
On a day, such pastime keeping,
Thorns that prick and boughs that bear,
I stood suddenly astonied-I was gladdened unaware.
From the place I stood in, floated
And the open ground was coated
Carpet-smooth with grass and moss,
And the blue-bell's purple presence signed it worthily
Here a linden-tree stood, bright'ning
All adown its silver rind;
For as some trees draw the lightning,
So this tree, unto my mind,
Drew to earth the blessed sunshine from the sky where it was shrined.
Tall the linden-tree, and near it
And wood-ivy like a spirit
Hovered dimly round the two,
Shaping thence that bower of beauty which I sing of thus
'T was a bower for garden fitter
Though a fresh and dewy glitter
Struck it through from side to side,
Shaped and shaven was the freshness, as by gardencunning plied.
Oh, a lady might have come there,
Hooded fairly like her hawk,
With a book or lute in summer,
And a hope of sweeter talk,——
Listening less to her own music than for footsteps on the walk!
But that bower appeared a marvel
In the wildness of the place;
With such seeming art and travail,
Finely fixed and fitted was
Leaf to leaf, the dark-green ivy, to the summit from the base.
And the ivy veined and glossy
And the large-leaved columbine,
Arch of door and window-mullion, did right sylvanly entwine.
Rose-trees either side the door were
Each one set, a summer warder
For the keeping of the hall,—
With a red rose and a white rose, leaning, nodding at the wall.
As I entered, mosses hushing
Clasped within the linden's root,
Took me in a chair of silence very rare and absolute.
All the floor was paved with glory,
Greenly, silently inlaid.
(Through quick motions made before me)
With fair counterparts in shade
Of the fair serrated ivy-leaves which slanted overhead.
"Is such a pavement in a palace?
Threw within a red libation, like an
At the same time, on the linen
Of my childish lap there fell
answer to my
Two white may-leaves, downward winning
From a blossom, like an angel, out of sight yet blessing well.
Down to floor and up to ceiling
Quick I turned my childish face,
For the secret of the place
To the trees, which surely knew it in partaking of the grace.
Where's no foot of human creature
Why has nature turned so bland,
Breaking off from other wild-work? understand.
It was hard to
Was she weary of rough-doing,
Did she pause in tender rueing
Here of all her sylvan scorn?
Or in mock of art's deceiving was the sudden mildness worn?
Or could this same bower (I fancied)
Be the work of Dryad strong,