The forests were God's first temples.

Before man learned

To sharpen the lance, lay the harvest,

And spread the roof above them,—

-before he framed

The lofty church, to gather the sound of anthems

In echo;

In dark woods,

In the cool silence, he knelt down,

And offered the Mighty solemn thanks

And tribute. For his simple heart

Might not resist sacred influences,

Which, from the still twilight,

From old trunks that in heaven

Mingled their mossy boughs, and from the sound

Of invisible breath that swayed at once

All their green tops, rushed over him, and bent

His spirit with the thought of endless power

And unattainable glory.


Should we, in the world's ripe years, neglect

God's ancient sanctuaries, and worship

Only among the crowd, and under roofs,

That our frail hands have raised?

Let me, at least,

Here, in the shadow of ancient wood,

Offer one hymn—

-three times as happy, if it find

Acceptance in His ear.

Father, Your hand

Has raised these venerable columns, You

Did weave this verdant roof.

You did look down

On the naked earth, and, from nothing, rose

All these fair ranks of trees.

They, in Your sun,

Bloomed, and shook their green leaves in the breeze,

And shot toward heaven.

The century-old crow,

Who was born in their tops, grew old and died

Among their branches,

til at last they stood,

Great, tall, and dark,

Shrine for humble vagrant to hold

Communion with his Maker.

These dim vaults,

These winding aisles, of human splendor and pride

Do not portray You.

No fantastic carvings show

The boast of our vain race to change the form

Of Your fair works.

But You are here—

-You fill

The solitude.

You are in the soft winds

That run along the peaks of these trees

In music;

You are in the cool breath

That from the inner darkness of the forest

Comes, scarcely felt;

The bark trunks,

The fresh moist ground, are all instinct with You.

Here is continual worship;—

-Nature, here,

In the Peace that You so love,

Enjoys Your presence.

Noiselessly, around,

From perch to perch, the solitary bird


And in clear spring, that, among its herbs,

Bubbles softly forth and wandering steps the roots

Of the mighty Birch, tells no tale

Of all the good it offers

For the pyres of Men.

You have not left

Earth without a witness, in these shades,

Of Your perfections.

Grandeur, strength, and grace

Are here to speak of You.

This mighty Cypress—-

By whose immovable stem I stand and seem

Almost annihilated—

-not a general,

In all proud Europe beyond the sea,

Ever wore his crown as lofty as He

Wears the green wreath of leaves with which

Your hand has graced Him.

Nestled at His root

Is beauty,

Beauty that cannot bloom in the glare

Of the broad sun.

That delicate wildflower

With scented aroma, like a smile,

Seems, as it grows from the shapeless mold,

A visible token of the upholding Love,

That are the soul of this wide universe.

My heart is awed when I think

Of the great miracle that still goes on,

In silence, around me—

-the perpetual work

Of Your creation, finished, yet renewed


Written on Your works I read

The lesson of Your own eternity.