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Nor pleased it less around me to behold
View now the Winter storm ! above, one cloud,
Far off the petrel, in the troubled way,
In-shore, their passage tribes of sea.gulls urge,
O FESTAL Spring! midst thy victorious glow,
A MORNING IN MARCH.
The cock is crowing,
The lake doth glitter,
The oldest and youngest
Their heads never raising ;
Like an army defeated,
On the top of the bare hill ;
There's joy on the mountains ;
Blue sky prevailing;
“ The woodman's heart is in his work,
His axe is sharp and good :
From distant rocks
His lusty knocks
We had nearly threaded the wood, and were approaching an open grove of magnificent oaks on the other side, when sounds other than of nightingales burst on our ear, the deep and frequent strokes of the woodman's axe, and emerging from the Penge, we discovered the havoc which that axe had committed. Above twenty of the finest trees lay stretched on the velvet turf. There they lay in every shape and form of devastation : some, bare trunks stripped ready for the timbercarriage, with the bark built up in long piles at the side ; some with the spoilers busy about them, stripping, hacking, hewing; others with their noble branches, their brown and fragrant shoots all fresh as if
they were alive-majestic corpses, the slain of to-day! The grove was like a field of battle. The young lads who were stripping the bark, the very children who were picking up the chips, seemed awed and silent, as if conscious that death was around them. The nightingales sang faintly and interruptedly - a few low, frightened notes like a requiem.
Ah! here we are at the very scene of murder, the
very tree that
they are felling; they have just hewn round the trunk with those slaughtering axes, and are about to saw it asunder. Into how grand an attitude was that young man thrown as he gave the final strokes round the root; and how wonderful is the effect of that supple and apparently powerless say, bending like a ribbon, and yet overmastering that giant of the woods, conquering and overthrowing that thing of life! Now it has passed half through the trunk, and the woodman has begun to calculate which way the tree will fall; he drives a wedge to direct its course; now a few more movements of the noiseless saw; and then a larger wedge. See how the branches tremble ! Hark how the trunk begins to crack! Another stroke of the huge hammer on the wedge, and the tree quivers, as with a mortal agony, reels, shakes, and falls. How slow, and solemn, and awful it is! How like to death, to human death in its grandest forms ! Cæsar in the Capitol, Seneca in the bath, could not fall more sublimely than that oak.
Even the heavens seem to sympathize with the devastation. The clouds have gathered into one thick low canopy, dark and vapoury as the smoke which overhangs London ; the setting sun is just gleaming underneath with a dim and bloody glare, and the crimson rays spreading upward with a lurid and portentous grandeur, a subdued and dusky glow, like the light reflected on the sky from some vast conflagration. The deep flush fades away, and the rain begins to descend, and we hurry homeward rapidly, yet sadly, forgetful alike of the flowers and the wetting—thinking and talking only of the fallen tree.
“ Daffodils that come before the swallow dares, and take
The winds of March with beauty.”
Fair Daffodils, we weep to see
You haste away so soon ;
Has not attained his noon.