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THE SPHINX.

In these fields there lives a sphinx:
Woe to him who rashly thinks
He hath wit to overreach
What her servants cannot teach!

Thou shalt never see her face,
Yet her presence fills the place ;
Thou shalt never meet her eyes,
Yet their light, reflected, lies
On the polished streams that flow,
And on flowers that catch the glow.
Thou shalt never hear her voice,
Yet it is her sov’reign choice
That the winds should breathe her will
Unto grove, and vale, and hill ;
That the hills should answer back
Storms that drive the cloudy rack
On its lightning-cloven track;
That the morning should not lack
Sweet antheming, nor evening be
Without its mellow minstrelsy.

Dost thou boast that thou canst read
The easy legend of a mead?

56

THE SPHINX.

Then the

grass

doth bid thee show,
In an hour, how much 't will grow,
How so soon it can repair
Plots the sheep have nibbled bare.
Hast thou peered beneath the hoods
Of the genii of the woods ?
Canst thou, passing by their cells,
Understand their muttered spells?
Canst thou read their curious work
Traced on scrolls of hoary birk ?
Wilt thou try to count the mast
That the acorn-trees have cast ?
Or tell what nee deft and fine,
Stitched the broad leaves of the vine ?
Honey bees, with sacs of sweet,
Plundering every flower they meet,
Bid thee say what part goes home,
Nectar pure or celled comb.
The building bird, with straw or shred,
Holds askance her cunning head,
Tries thy wisdom by her test,
Canst thou build or weave a nest?
When thou makest no reply,
Round the fields soft laughters fly,
And the rumor goes abroad
That this man, or demi-god,
Reaching for the Infinite,
Cannot, with his best of wit,
Solve what hath for

lain
An open secret, fair and plain!

ages

A CHILD OF EARTH.

YE meadows and maize-waving fields,
Warm orchards, with your mellow yields,
And fallows, joyous and unkempt ;
Ye woodlands, whether gray or green,
As Spring in you doth sleep or wake;
Ye trivial runs, that ever tempt
The longest way to reach your home,
And, as ye wander, ever break
Green news to banks ye glide between ;
Thou quiet shore, and thou serene,
Cool under-heaven, dashed with foam
(Wide water, glad in thy approach), —
O ye, my kindred! hear me now,
While I

my

love and service broach; Your claim I may not disallow.

I am of thee, thou patient soil;
Thy harvests here, that bend and bow,
And make long pathways for the breeze;
Thine ancient clansmen, strong with toil
(Thine old storm-proven growths, the trees);
Thy fondlings recent from the germ,
Which dew an beam make haste to find,
All cognate are to me, and kind !

58

A CHILD OF EARTH.

I am of these, and taught by these
To strike my roots down deep and firm.

Ye veering streams, where'er ye ply,
I seek you with a thirsty mind :
In summer, when ye climb the sky,
And leave your channels cracked and dry,
Burns fever in my dwindled veins ;
And when in
your white cells

ye

lie,
And soundless hammers forge your chains,
My fluid thought is bound with gyves,
And mute and dull as ye remains.
Wide water, with thy Protean lives,
In counting of thy tribute gains,
Miss not the streams that draw to thee
From sources in the heart of me.

My kindred! forest, field, and lake !
Once more I right confession make
How dear to me ye ever were,
And, while I live by breath, shall be:
When breath is past, ’t is yours to take,
Mournless, the never wanderer,
And gently, without sound or stir,
His elements among you break,
Whose heaven shall perchance be fair
With types of you, immortal there.

SWEET CIDER.

Soul of the apple glorified !
In a sudden flush of pride,
I would send this blameless beaker
To that mellow pleasure-seeker,

Old Anacreon, with this boast :
“Take some joy on Pluto's coast;

Here's a drink with more sunshine Than e'er laughed in Levant wine !”

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