To ----

A poem by John Greenleaf Whittier

Lines written after a summer day's excursion.


Fair Nature's priestesses! to whom,
In hieroglyph of bud and bloom,
Her mysteries are told;
Who, wise in lore of wood and mead,
The seasons' pictured scrolls can read,
In lessons manifold!

Thanks for the courtesy, and gay
Good-humor, which on Washing Day
Our ill-timed visit bore;
Thanks for your graceful oars, which broke
The morning dreams of Artichoke,
Along his wooded shore!

Varied as varying Nature's ways,
Sprites of the river, woodland fays,
Or mountain nymphs, ye seem;
Free-limbed Dianas on the green,
Loch Katrine's Ellen, or Undine,
Upon your favorite stream.

The forms of which the poets told,
The fair benignities of old,
Were doubtless such as you;
What more than Artichoke the rill
Of Helicon? Than Pipe-stave hill
Arcadia's mountain-view?

No sweeter bowers the bee delayed,
In wild Hymettus' scented shade,
Than those you dwell among;
Snow-flowered azaleas, intertwined
With roses, over banks inclined
With trembling harebells hung!

A charmed life unknown to death,
Immortal freshness Nature hath;
Her fabled fount and glen
Are now and here: Dodona's shrine
Still murmurs in the wind-swept pine,
All is that e'er hath been.

The Beauty which old Greece or Rome
Sung, painted, wrought, lies close at home;
We need but eye and ear
In all our daily walks to trace
The outlines of incarnate grace,
The hymns of gods to hear

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