WHITE CLOUDS, whose shadows haunt the deep,
Light mists, whose soft embraces keep
The sunshine on the hills asleep!
O isles of calm! O dark, still wood!
And stiller skies that overbrood
Your rest with deeper quietude!
O shapes and hues, dim beckoning, through
Yon mountain gaps, my longing view
Beyond the purple and the blue,
To stiller sea and greener land,
And softer lights and airs more bland,
And skies,—the hollow of God’s hand!
Transfused through you, O mountain friends!
With mine your solemn spirit blends,
And life no more hath separate ends.
I read each misty mountain sign,
I know the voice of wave and pine,
And I am yours, and ye are mine.
Life’s burdens fall, its discords cease,
I lapse into the glad release
Of Nature’s own exceeding peace.
O welcome calm of heart and mind!
As falls yon fir-tree’s loosened rind
To leave a tenderer growth behind,
So fall the weary years away;
A child again, my head I lay
Upon the lap of this sweet day.
This western wind hath Lethean powers,
Yon noonday cloud nepenthe showers,
The lake is white with lotus-flowers!
Even Duty’s voice is faint and low,
And slumberous Conscience, waking slow,
Forgets her blotted scroll to show.
The Shadow which pursues us all,
Whose ever-nearing steps appall,
Whose voice we hear behind us call,—
That Shadow blends with mountain gray,
It speaks but what the light waves say,—
Death walks apart from Fear to-day!
Rocked on her breast, these pines and I
Alike on Nature’s love rely;
And equal seems to live or die.
Assured that He whose presence fills
With light the spaces of these hills
No evil to His creatures wills,
The simple faith remains, that He
Will do, whatever that may be,
The best alike for man and tree.
What mosses over one shall grow,
What light and life the other know,
Unanxious, leaving Him to show.
Yon mountain’s side is black with night,
While, broad-orhed, o’er its gleaming crown
The moon, slow-rounding into sight,
On the hushed inland sea looks down.
How start to light the clustering isles,
Each silver-hemmed! How sharply show
The shadows of their rocky piles,
And tree-tops in the wave below!
How far and strange the mountains seem,
Dim-looming through the pale, still light
The vague, vast grouping of a dream,
They stretch into the solemn night.
Beneath, lake, wood, and peopled vale,
Hushed by that presence grand and grave,
Are silent, save the cricket’s wail,
And low response of leaf and wave.
Fair scenes! whereto the Day and Night
Make rival love, I leave ye soon,
What time before the eastern light
The pale ghost of the setting moon
Shall hide behind yon rocky spines,
And the young archer, Morn, shall break
His arrows on the mountain pines,
And, golden-sandalled, walk the lake!
Farewell! around this smiling bay
Gay-hearted Health, and Life in bloom,
With lighter steps than mine, may stray
In radiant summers yet to come.
But none shall more regretful leave
These waters and these hills than I
Or, distant, fonder dream how eve
Or dawn is painting wave and sky;
How rising moons shine sad and mild
On wooded isle and silvering bay;
Or setting suns beyond the piled
And purple mountains lead the day;
Nor laughing girl, nor bearding boy,
Nor full-pulsed manhood, lingering here,
Shall add, to life’s abounding joy,
The charmed repose to suffering dear.
Still waits kind Nature to impart
Her choicest gifts to such as gain
An entrance to her loving heart
Through the sharp discipline of pain.
Forever from the Hand that takes
One blessing from us others fall;
And, soon or late, our Father makes
His perfect recompense to all!
Oh, watched by Silence and the Night,
And folded in the strong embrace
Of the great mountains, with the light
Of the sweet heavens upon thy face,
Lake of the Northland! keep thy dower
Of beauty still, and while above
Thy solemn mountains speak of power,
Be thou the mirror of God’s love.