They shut the road through the woods
      Seventy years ago.
Weather and rain have undone it again,
      And now you would never know
There was once a road through the woods
      Before they planted the trees.
It is underneath the coppice and heath,
      And the thin anemones.
      Only the keeper sees
That, where the ring-dove broods,
      And the badgers roll at ease,
There was once a road through the woods.

Yet, if you enter the woods
      Of a summer evening late,
When the night-air cools on the trout-ringed pools
      Where the otter whistles his mate,
(They fear not men in the woods,
      Because they see so few.)
You will hear the beat of a horse’s feet,
      And the swish of a skirt in the dew,
      Steadily cantering through
The misty solitudes,
      As though they perfectly knew
      The old lost road through the woods.
But there is no road through the woods.

This poem is in the public domain.

I’m tired of the gloom  

In a four-walled room;  

Heart-weary, I sigh  

For the open sky,  

And the solitude  

Of the greening wood;  

Where the bluebirds call,  

And the sunbeams fall,  

And the daisies lure 

The soul to be pure.  

 

I’m tired of the life 

In the ways of strife;  

Heart-weary, I long  

For the river’s song,  

And the murmur of rills  

In the breezy hills;  

Where the pipe of Pan— 

The hairy half-man— 

The bright silence breaks  

By the sleeping lakes.   

Yea, there are as many stars under the Earth as over the Earth...
Plenty of room to roll around in has our planet...
And I, at the edge of the porch,
Hearing the crickets shrill in the star-thick armies of grass,
And beholding over the spread of Earth the spread of the heavens...
Drink this deep moment in my pilgrimage,
With a sense of how forever I have been alive,
With a conviction that I shall go on, ever safe, ever growing,
The stars to be included in my travels,
And the future sure before me.

This poem is in the public domain.

Now shall I store my soul with silent beauty, 
     Beauty of drifting clouds and mountain heights, 
Beauty of sun-splashed hills and shadowed forests, 
     Beauty of dawn and dusk and star-swept nights. 

Now shall I fill my heart with quiet music, 
    Song of the wind across the pine-clad hill, 
Song of the rain and, fairer than all music, 
    Call of the thrush when twilight woods are still. 

So shall the days to come be filled with beauty, 
     Bright with the promise caught from eastern skies; 
So shall I see the stars when night is darkest, 
     Still hear the thrush’s song when music dies. 

This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on March 1, 2020, by the Academy of American Poets. 

I come weary,
In search of an inn—
Ah! These wisteria flowers!

 

 

 

                                              —Translation by William George Aston

This poem is in the public domain.

Who said November’s face was grim? 
    Who said her voice was harsh and sad?
I heard her sing in wood paths dim,
   I met her on the shore, so glad,
So smiling, I could kiss her feet!
There never was a month so sweet.

October’s splendid robes, that hid 
   The beauty of the white-limbed trees, 
Have dropped in tatters; yet amid 
   Those perfect forms the gazer sees
A proud wood-monarch here and there
Garments of wine-dipped crimson wear. 

In precious flakes the autumnal gold
    Is clinging to the forest’s fringe: 
Yon bare twig to the sun will hold 
   Each separate leaf, to show the tinge 
Of glorious rose-light reddening through 
Its jewels, beautiful as few. 

Where short-lived wild-flowers bloomed and died
   The slanting sunbeams fall across 
Vine-broideries, woven from side to side 
   Above mosaics of tinted moss.
So does the Eternal Artist’s skill
Hide beauty under beauty still. 

And, if no note of bee or bird
   Through the rapt stillness of the woods
Or the sea’s murmurous trance be heard,
    A Presence in these solitudes 
Upon the spirit seems to press
The dew of God’s dear silences.

And if, out of some inner heaven, 
    With soft relenting comes a day
Whereto the heart of June is given, —
   All subtle scents and spicery
Through forest crypts and arches steal, 
With power unnumbered hurts to heal. 

Through yonder rended veil of green, 
   That used to shut the sky from me, 
New glimpses of vast blue are seen; 
    I never guessed that so much sea
Bordered my little plot of ground,
And held me clasped so close around. 
  
This is the month of sunrise skies 
      Intense with molten mist and flame; 
Out of the purple deeps arrive 
      Colors no painter yet could name:
Gold-lilies and the cardinal-flower 
Were pale against this gorgeous hour. 

Still lovelier when athwart the east
      The level beam of sunset falls:
The tints of wild-flowers long deceased 
       Glow then upon the horizon walls; 
Shades of the rose and violet
Close to their dear world lingering yet. 

What idleness, to moan and fret 
       For any season fair, gone by! 
Life’s secret is not guessed at yet;
       Veil under veil its wonders lie. 
Through grief and loss made glorious 
The soul of past joy lives in us. 

More welcome than voluptous gales 
       This keen, crisp air, as conscience clear: 
November breathes no flattering tales;— 
       The plain truth-teller of the year, 
Who wins her heart, and he alone, 
Knows she has sweetness all her own.

This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on November 24, 2019, by the Academy of American Poets.

Allons! whoever you are come travel with me!
Traveling with me you find what never tires.

The earth never tires,
The earth is rude, silent, incomprehensible at first, Nature is rude and incomprehensible at first,
Be not discouraged, keep on, there are divine things well envelop'd,
I swear to you there are divine things more beautiful than words can tell.

Allons! we must not stop here,
However sweet these laid-up stores, however convenient this dwelling we cannot remain here,
However shelter'd this port and however calm these waters we must not anchor here,
However welcome the hospitality that surrounds us we are permitted to receive it but a little while.

This poem is in the public domain. 

I believe a leaf of grass is no less than the journey-work of the stars,
And the pismire is equally perfect, and a grain of sand, and the egg of the wren,
And the tree-toad is a chef-d'oeuvre for the highest,
And the running blackberry would adorn the parlors of heaven,
And the narrowest hinge in my hand puts to scorn all machinery,
And the cow crunching with depress'd head surpasses any statue,
And a mouse is miracle enough to stagger sextillions of infidels.

I find I incorporate gneiss, coal, long-threaded moss, fruits, grains, esculent roots,
And am stucco'd with quadrupeds and birds all over,
And have distanced what is behind me for good reasons,
But call any thing back again when I desire it.

In vain the speeding or shyness,
In vain the plutonic rocks send their old heat against my approach,
In vain the mastodon retreats beneath its own powder'd bones,
In vain objects stand leagues off and assume manifold shapes,
In vain the ocean settling in hollows and the great monsters lying low,
In vain the buzzard houses herself with the sky,
In vain the snake slides through the creepers and logs,
In vain the elk takes to the inner passes of the woods,
In vain the razor-bill'd auk sails far north to Labrador,
I follow quickly, I ascend to the nest in the fissure of the cliff.

This poem is in the public domain.

The spotted hawk swoops by and accuses me, he complains of my gab and my loitering.

I too am not a bit tamed, I too am untranslatable,
I sound my barbaric yawp over the roofs of the world.

The last scud of day holds back for me,
It flings my likeness after the rest and true as any on the shadow’d wilds,

It coaxes me to the vapor and the dusk.

I depart as air, I shake my white locks at the runaway sun,
I effuse my flesh in eddies, and drift it in lacy jags.

I bequeath myself to the dirt to grow from the grass I love,
If you want me again look for me under your boot-soles.

You will hardly know who I am or what I mean,
But I shall be good health to you nevertheless,
And filter and fibre your blood.

Failing to fetch me at first keep encouraged,
Missing me one place search another,
I stop somewhere waiting for you.

This poem is in the public domain.

O Winter! frozen pulse and heart of fire, 
What loss is theirs who from thy kingdom turn 
Dismayed, and think thy snow a sculptured urn 
Of death! Far sooner in midsummer tire 
The streams than under ice. June could not hire 
Her roses to forego the strength they learn 
In sleeping on thy breast. No fires can burn 
The bridges thou dost lay where men desire 
In vain to build. 
                                O Heart, when Love’s sun goes 
To northward, and the sounds of singing cease, 
Keep warm by inner fires, and rest in peace. 
Sleep on content, as sleeps the patient rose. 
Walk boldly on the white untrodden snows, 
The winter is the winter’s own release.

This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on January 5, 2019, by the Academy of American Poets.

I will wade out
                    	   till my thighs are steeped in burn-
ing flowers
I will take the sun in my mouth
and leap into the ripe air
                                	   	Alive
                                            	               with closed eyes
to dash against darkness
                                	  in the sleeping curves of my
body
Shall enter fingers of smooth mastery
with chasteness of sea-girls
                                	         Will I complete the mystery
of my flesh
I will rise
        	After a thousand years
lipping
flowers
             And set my teeth in the silver of the moon

This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on October 14, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.