Mist

Henry David Thoreau - 1817-1862

Low-anchored cloud,
Newfoundland air,
Fountain-head and source of rivers,
Dew-cloth, dream-drapery,
And napkin spread by fays;
Drifting meadow of the air,
Where bloom the daisied banks and violets,
And in whose fenny labyrinth
The bittern booms and heron wades;
Spirit of lakes and seas and rivers,—
Bear only perfumes and the scent
Of healing herbs to just men’s fields.

More by Henry David Thoreau

Smoke

Light-winged Smoke! Icarian bird,	
Melting thy pinions in thy upward flight;	
Lark without song, and messenger of dawn,	
Circling above the hamlets as thy nest;	
Or else, departing dream, and shadowy form
Of midnight vision, gathering up thy skirts;	
By night star-veiling, and by day	
Darkening the light and blotting out the sun;	
Go thou, my incense, upward from this hearth,	
And ask the gods to pardon this clear flame.

Inspiration

Whate'er we leave to God, God does, 
And blesses us; 
The work we choose should be our own, 
God leaves alone.
 
If with light head erect I sing, 
Though all the Muses lend their force, 
From my poor love of anything, 
The verse is weak and shallow as its source. 

But if with bended neck I grope 
Listening behind me for my wit, 
With faith superior to hope, 
More anxious to keep back than forward it; 

Making my soul accomplice there 
Unto the flame my heart hath lit, 
Then will the verse forever wear—
Time cannot bend the line which God hath writ. 

Always the general show of things 
Floats in review before my mind, 
And such true love and reverence brings, 
That sometimes I forget that I am blind. 

But now there comes unsought, unseen, 
Some clear divine electuary, 
And I, who had but sensual been, 
Grow sensible, and as God is, am wary. 

I hearing get, who had but ears, 
And sight, who had but eyes before, 
I moments live, who lived but years, 
And truth discern, who knew but learning's lore. 

I hear beyond the range of sound, 
I see beyond the range of sight, 
New earths and skies and seas around, 
And in my day the sun doth pale his light. 

A clear and ancient harmony 
Pierces my soul through all its din, 
As through its utmost melody—
Farther behind than they, farther within. 

More swift its bolt than lightning is, 
Its voice than thunder is more loud, 
It doth expand my privacies 
To all, and leave me single in the crowd. 

It speaks with such authority, 
With so serene and lofty tone, 
That idle Time runs gadding by, 
And leaves me with Eternity alone. 

Now chiefly is my natal hour, 
And only now my prime of life; 
Of manhood's strength it is the flower, 
'Tis peace's end and war's beginning strife. 

It comes in summer's broadest noon, 
By a grey wall or some chance place, 
Unseasoning Time, insulting June, 
And vexing day with its presuming face. 

Such fragrance round my couch it makes, 
More rich than are Arabian drugs, 
That my soul scents its life and wakes 
The body up beneath its perfumed rugs. 

Such is the Muse, the heavenly maid, 
The star that guides our mortal course, 
Which shows where life's true kernel's laid, 
Its wheat's fine flour, and its undying force. 

She with one breath attunes the spheres, 
And also my poor human heart, 
With one impulse propels the years 
Around, and gives my throbbing pulse its start. 

I will not doubt for evermore, 
Nor falter from a steadfast faith, 
For thought the system be turned o'er, 
God takes not back the word which once He saith. 

I will not doubt the love untold 
Which not my worth nor want has bought, 
Which wooed me young, and woos me old, 
And to this evening hath me brought. 

My memory I'll educate 
To know the one historic truth, 
Remembering to the latest date 
The only true and sole immortal youth. 

Be but thy inspiration given, 
No matter through what danger sought, 
I'll fathom hell or climb to heaven, 
And yet esteem that cheap which love has bought.


Fame cannot tempt the bard Who's famous with his God, Nor laurel him reward Who has his Maker's nod.

Great God, I Ask Thee for No Meaner Pelf

Great God, I ask for no meaner pelf
Than that I may not disappoint myself,
That in my action I may soar as high
As I can now discern with this clear eye.

And next in value, which thy kindness lends, 
That I may greatly disappoint my friends,
Howe'er they think or hope that it may be,
They may not dream how thou'st distinguished me.

That my weak hand may equal my firm faith
And my life practice what my tongue saith
That my low conduct may not show
Nor my relenting lines
That I thy purpose did not know
Or overrated thy designs. 

Related Poems

Spontaneous Me

Spontaneous me, Nature,   
The loving day, the mounting sun, the friend I am happy with,   
The arm of my friend hanging idly over my shoulder,   
The hill-side whiten’d with blossoms of the mountain ash,   
The same late in autumn, the hues of red, yellow, drab, purple, and light and dark green,
The rich coverlet of the grass, animals and birds, the private untrimm’d bank, the primitive apples, the pebble-stones,   
Beautiful dripping fragments, the negligent list of one after another, as I happen to call them to me or think of them,   
The real poems, (what we call poems being merely pictures,)   
The poems of the privacy of the night, and of men like me,   
This poem drooping shy and unseen that I always carry, and that all men carry,
(Know once for all, avow’d on purpose, wherever are men like me, are our lusty lurking masculine poems,)   
Love-thoughts, love-juice, love-odor, love-yielding, love-climbers, and the climbing sap,   
Arms and hands of love, lips of love, phallic thumb of love, breasts of love, bellies press’d and glued together with love,   
Earth of chaste love, life that is only life after love,   
The body of my love, the body of the woman I love, the body of the man, the body of the earth,
Soft forenoon airs that blow from the south-west,   
The hairy wild-bee that murmurs and hankers up and down, that gripes the full-grown lady-flower, curves upon her with amorous firm legs, takes his will of her, and holds himself tremulous and tight till he is satisfied,   
The wet of woods through the early hours,   
Two sleepers at night lying close together as they sleep, one with an arm slanting down across and below the waist of the other,   
The smell of apples, aromas from crush’d sage-plant, mint, birch-bark,
The boy’s longings, the glow and pressure as he confides to me what he was dreaming,   
The dead leaf whirling its spiral whirl, and falling still and content to the ground,   
The no-form’d stings that sights, people, objects, sting me with,   
The hubb’d sting of myself, stinging me as much as it ever can any one,   
The sensitive, orbic, underlapp’d brothers, that only privileged feelers may be intimate where they are,
The curious roamer, the hand roaming all over the body, the bashful withdrawing of flesh where the fingers soothingly pause and edge themselves,   
The limpid liquid within the young man,   
The vexed corrosion so pensive and so painful,   
The torment, the irritable tide that will not be at rest,   
The like of the same I feel, the like of the same in others,
The young man that flushes and flushes, and the young woman that flushes and flushes,   
The young man that wakes deep at night, the hot hand seeking to repress what would master him, The mystic amorous night, the strange half-welcome pangs, visions, sweats,   
The pulse pounding through palms and trembling encircling fingers, the young man all color’d,red, ashamed, angry;   
The souse upon me of my lover the sea, as I lie willing and naked,
The merriment of the twin babes that crawl over the grass in the sun, the mother never turning her vigilant eyes from them,   
The walnut-trunk, the walnut-husks, and the ripening or ripen’d long-round walnuts,    
The continence of vegetables, birds, animals,   
The consequent meanness of me should I skulk or find myself indecent, while birds and animals never once skulk or find themselves indecent,   
The great chastity of paternity, to match the great chastity of maternity,
The oath of procreation I have sworn, my Adamic and fresh daughters,   
The greed that eats me day and night with hungry gnaw, till I saturate what shall produce boys to fill my place when I am through,   
The wholesome relief, repose, content,    
And this bunch pluck’d at random from myself,   
It has done its work—I tossed it carelessly to fall where it may.