Forest Pictures: Morning

OGRACIOUS breath of sunrise ! divine air !
That brood’st serenely o’er the purpling hills,
O blissful valleys ! nestling, cool, and fair,
In the fond arms of yonder murmurous rills,
Breathing their mystic measures to the sun ;
O dew-besprinkled paths, that circling run
Through sylvan shades and solemn silences,
Once more ye bring my fevered spirit peace !
The fitful breezes, fraught with Forest balm,
Faint, in rare wafts of perfume, on my brow ;
The woven lights and shadows, rife with calm,
Creep slantwise twixt the foliage, bough on bough
Uplifted heavenward, like a verdant cloud
Whose rain is music, soft as love, or loud
With jubilant hope, — for there entranced, apart,
The mock-bird sings, close, close to Nature’s heart.
Shy forms about the greenery, out and in,
Flit ’neath the broadening glories of the morn ;
The squirrel — that quaint sylvan harlequin —
Mounts the tall trunks ; while swift as lightning born
Of summer mists, from tangled vine and tree
Dart the dove’s pinions, pulsing vividly
Down the dense glades, till glimmering far and gray,
The dusky vision softly melts away !
In transient, pleased bewilderment, I mark
The last dim shimmer of those lessening wings,
When from lone copse and shadowy covert, hark !
What mellow tongue through all the woodland rings !
The deer-hound’s voice, sweet as a golden bell’s,
Prolonged by flying echoes round the dells,
And up the loftiest summits mildly borne,
Blent with the blast of some keen huntsman’s horn.
And now, the checkered vale is left behind ;
I climb the slope, and reach the hill-top bright;
Here, in bold freedom, swells a sovereign wind,
Whose gusty prowess sweeps the pine-clad height;
And the pines — dreamy Titans roused from sleep —
Answer with mighty voices, deep on deep
Of wakened foliage surging like a sea;
And o’er them smiles heaven’s weird infinity !
Paul H. Hayne.