The Woods.

A poem by Hattie Howard

I love the woods when the magic hand
Of Spring, as if sweeping the keys
Of a wornout instrument, touches the earth;
When beauty and song in the gladness of birth
Awaken the heart of the desolate land,
And carol its rapture to every breeze.

In summer's still solstice my steps are drawn
To the shade of the forest trees;
To revel with Pan in his secret haunts,
To pipe mazourkas while satyrs dance,
Or lull to soft slumber some favorite faun
And fascinate strange wild birds and bees.

I love the woods when autumnal fires
Are kindled on every hill;
When dead leaves rustle in grove and field,
And trees are known by the fruits they yield,
And the wild grapes, sweetened by frost, inspire
A mildly-desperate, bibulous thrill.

There's a joy for which I would fling to the air
My petty portion of wealth and fame,
In tracking the rabbit o'er fresh-fallen snow,
The ways of the 'coon and opossum to know,
To capture squirrels when branches are bare
As the cupboard shelf of that ancient dame.

Oh, I long to explore the woods again
In my own aboriginal way,
As before I knew how culture could frown
On a hoydenish gait and a homespun gown
Or dreamed that the strata of proud "upper-ten"
Would smile at rusticity's naïveté.

I sigh for the pleasures of long ago
In youth's sweet halcyon time;
When better beloved than the thoroughfare
By multitudes trod were the woodlands, where
Was never a path that I did not know,
Nor thrifty sapling I dared not climb.

Alas for lost freedom! Alas for me!
For oh, Society's lip would curl,
Propriety's self with scornful eye
And gilt-edged Fashion would pass me by
To know that sometimes I'm dying to be
The romp, the rover, the same old girl.

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