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The mountain-boar, on battle set,
His tusks upon my stem would whet;
While doe and roe, and red-deer good,
Have bounded by through gay green-wood.
Then oft, from Newark's riven tower,
Sallied a Scottish monarch's
A thousand vassals muster'd round,
With horse, and hawk, and horn, and hound;
And I might see the youth intent
Guard every pass with cross-bow bent;
And through the brake the rangers stalk,
And falc'ners hold the ready hawk;
And foresters, in green-wood trim,
Lead in the leash the gaze-hounds grim,
Attentive, as the bratchet's bay
From the dark covert drove the prey,
To slip them as he broke away.
As fast the gallant greyhounds strain :
Whistles the arrow from the bow,
Answers the arquebuss below:
While all the rocking hills reply
To hoof-clang, hound, and hunter's cry,
And bugles ringing lightsomely."
SCOTT. Keats makes the “ leafy month of June” fresher and greener, with remembrances of the Sherwood clan”-the woodland heroes of the people's ballads :
No! those days are gone away,
And their hours are old and grey,
And their minutes buried all
Under the down-trodden fall
Of the leaves of many years :
Many times have winter's shears,
Frozen north, and chilling east,
Sounded tempests to the feast
Of the forest's whispering fleeces,
Since men knew not rents nor leases.
No, the bugle sounds no more,
And the twanging bow no more;
Silent is the ivory shrill
Past the heath and up the hill;
There is no mid-forest laugh,
Where lone echo gives the half
To some wight, amazed to hear
Jesting, deep in forest drear.
On the fairest time of June
You may go with sun or moon,
Or the seven stars to light you,
Or the polar ray to right you ;
Little John, or Robin bold;
Never one, of all the clan,
Thrumming on an empty can
Some old hunting ditty, while
He doth his green way beguile
To fair hostess Merriment,
Down beside the pasture Trent;
For he left the
Messenger for spicy ale.
Gone, the merry morris den; Gone, the song of Gamelyn; Gone, the tough-belted outlaw Idling in the "grené-shawe;" All are gone away and past! And if Robin should be cast Sudden from his tufted grave, And if Marian should have Once again her forest days, She would weep, and he would craze : He would swear, for all his oaks, Fall'n beneath the dockyard strokes, Have rotted on the briny seas; She would weep that her wild bees
Sang not to her-strange! that honey
Can't be got without hard money!
So it is; yet let us sing
Honour to the old bow-string!
Honour to the bugle-horn,
Honour to the woods unshorn!
Honour to the Lincoln green!
Honour to the archer keen !
Honour to tight Little John,
And the horse he rode upon !
Honour to bold Robin Hood,
Sleeping in the underwood !
Honour to Maid Marian,
And to all the Sherwood clan!
Though their days have hurried by,
Let us two a burden try.
A living writer dwells upon the solemn stillness of the forest, with a poet's love built upon knowledge. No one can understand that
peculiar stillness who has not passed many a thoughtful hour beneath the
melancholy boughs,” amidst which there is ever sound which seems like silence :
I love the forest; I could dwell among
That silent people, till my thoughts up grew
In nobly ordered form, as to my
Rose the succession of that lofty throng :-
The mellow footstep on a ground of leaves
Form'd by the slow decay of num'rous years, –
The couch of moss, whose growth alone appears,
Beneath the fir's inhospitable eaves,
The chirp and flutter of some single bird,
The rustle in the brake, —what precious store
Of joys have these on poets' hearts conferred ?
And then at times to send one's own voice out,
In the full frolic of one startling shout,
Only to feel the after stillness more!
The American poet's reverence for the forest rises into devotion :
Father, thy hand
Hath rear'd these venerable columns, thou
Didst weave this verdant roof. Thou didst look down
Upon the naked earth, and forth with rose
All these fair ranks of trees. They, in thy sun
Budded, and shook their green leaves in thy breeze,
And shot towards heaven. The century-living crow,
Whose birth was in their tops, grew old and died
Among their branches, till, at last, they stood,
As now they stand, massy, and tall, and dark,
Fit shrine for humble worshipper to hold
Communion with his Maker. These dim vaults,
These winding aisles, of human pomp or pride
No fantastic carvings show
The boast of our vain race to change the form
Of thy fair works. But thou art here—thou fill'st
The solitude. Thou art in the soft winds
That run along the summit of these trees
In music;—thou art in the cooler breath,
That from the inmost darkness of the place,
Comes, scarcely felt-the barky trunks, the ground,
The fresh moist ground, are all instinct with thee.
Here is continual worship ;-nature, here,
In the tranquillity that thou dost love,
Enjoys thy presence. Noiselessly, around,
From perch to perch, the solitary bird
Passes; and yon clear spring, that, ’midst its herbs,
Wells softly forth, and visits the strong roots
Of half the mighty forest, tells no tale
Of all the good it does. Thou hast not left
Thyself without a witness, in these shades,
Of thy perfections. Grandeur, strength, and grace
Are here to speak of thee. This mighty oak-
By whose immovable stem I stand and seem
Almost annihilated—not a prince,
In all that proud old world beyond the deep,
E’er wore his crown as loftily as he
Wears the green coronal of leaves with which
Thy hand has graced him. Nestled at his root
Is beauty, such as blooms not in the glare
Of the broad sun. That delicate forest flower,
With scented breath, and look so like a smile,
Seems, as it issues from the shapeless mould,
An emanation of the indwelling Life,
A visible token of the upholding Love,
That are the soul of this wide universe.
My heart is awed within me, when I think
Of the great miracle that still goes on,
In silence, round me the perpetual work
Of thy creation, finish’d, yet renew'd
For ever. Written on thy works I read
The lesson of thy own eternity.
Lo! all grow old and die—but see, again,
How on the faltering footsteps of decay
Youth presses-ever gay and beautiful youth
In all its beautiful forms. These lofty trees
Wave not less proudly that their ancestors
Moulder beneath them. Oh, there is not lost
One of earth's charms: upon her bosom yet,
After the flight of untold centuries,
The freshness of her far beginning lies,
And yet shall lie. Life mocks the idle hate
Of his arch-enemy, Death-yea, seats himself
Upon the tyrant's throne—the sepulchre-
And of the triumphs of his ghastly foe
Makes his own nourishment. For he came forth
From thine own bosom, and shall have no end.