From the Green Book of the Bards

by Bliss Carman


 

A FOREST SHRINE


 

When you hear that mellow whistle
In the beeches unespied,
Footfall soft as down of thistle
Turn aside!

That's our golden hermit singer

5

In his leafy house and dim,
Where God's utterances linger
Yet for him.

Built out of the firmamental
Shafts of rain and beams of sun,

10

Norse and Greek and Oriental
Here are one.

Gothic oak and Latin laurel
Here but sentry that wild gush
Of wood-music with their aural

15

Calm and hush.

From those hanging airy arches
Soars the azure roof of June,
While among the feathery larches
Hangs the moon.

20


Through that unfrequented portal,
When the twilight winds are low,
Messengers of things immortal
Come and go;

Whispers of a rumour hidden

25

From slow reason, and revealed
To the child of beauty bidden
Far afield;

Hints of rapture rare and splendid
Furnished to the heart of man,

30

As if, where mind's journey ended,
Soul's began;

As if, when we sighed, "No farther!
Here our knowledge pales and thins;"
One had answered us, "Say rather,

35

'Here begins.'"

Argue me, "There is no gateway
In this great wall we explore,"
Till there comes a bird-note; straightway,
There's the door!

40


Enter here, thou beauty-lover,
The domain where soul resides;
Ingress thought could not discover,
Sense provides.

Ponder long and build at leisure,

45

Architect; yet canst thou rear
Such a house for such a treasure
As is here?

Leader of the woods and brasses,
Master of the winds and strings,

50

Hast thou music that surpasses
His who sings?

You who lay cold proof's embargos
On all wonder-working, tell
Whence those fine reverberant largos

55

Sink and swell!

Hark, that note of limpid glory
Melts into the old earth-strain,
And begins the woodland story
Once again.

60


Hark that transport of contentment
Blown into a mellow reed,
Wild, yet tranquil—soul's preventment
Of soul's need.

There the master voluntaries

65

On his pipe of greenish gold;
The wise theme whereon he varies,
Never old.

What do we with those who grieve them
O'er the fevers of the mind?

70

Beauty's follower will leave them
Far behind.

As the wind among the rushes,
Were it not enough to know
The sure joyance of the thrushes?

75

Even so.