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Carman, Bliss, (1861-1929)
By Still Waters
"He leadeth me beside the still waters; He restoreth my soul."

           My tent stands in a garden
           Of aster and goldenrod,
           Tilled by the rain and the sunshine,
           An sown by the hand of God,--
           An old New England pasture
           Abandoned to peace and time,
           And by the magic of beauty
           Reclaimed to the sublime.

           About it are golden woodlands
           Of tulip and hickory;
           On the open ridge behind it
           You may mount to a glimpse of sea,--
           The far-off, blue, Homeric
           Rim of the world's great shield,
           A border of boundless glamour
           For the soul's familiar field.

           In purple and gray-wrought lichen
           The boulders lie in the sun;
           Along its grassy footpath
           The white-tailed rabbits run.
           The crickets work and chirrup
           Through the still afternoon;
           And the owl calls from the hillside
           Under the frosty moon.
           
           The odorous wild grape clambers
           Over the tumbling wall,
           And through the autumnal quiet
           The chestnuts open and fall.
           Sharing time's freshness and fragrance,
           Part of the earth's great soul,
           Here man's spirit may ripen
           To wisdom serene and whole.
           
           Shall we not grow with the asters--
           Never reluctant nor sad,
           Not counting the cost of being,
           Living to dare and be glad?
           Shall we not lift with the crickets
           A chorus of ready cheer,
           Braving the frost of oblivion,
           Quick to be happy here?
           
           Is my will as sweet as the wild grape,
           Spreading delight on the air
           For the passerby's enchantment,
           Subtle and unaware?
           Have I as brave a spirit,
           Sprung from the self-same mould,
           As the weed from its own contentment
           Lifting its shaft of gold?

           The deep red cones of the sumach
           And the woodbine's crimson sprays
           Have bannered the common roadside
           For the pageant of passing days.
           These are the oracles Nature
           Fills with her holy breath,
           Giving them glory of color,
           Transcending the shadow of death.
           
           Here in the sifted sunlight
           A spirit seems to brood
           On the beauty and worth of being,
           In tranquil, instinctive mood;
           And the heart, filled full of gladness
           Such as the wise earth knows,
           Wells with a full thanksgiving
           For the gifts that life bestows:
           
           For the ancient and virile nurture
           Of the teeming primordial ground,
           For the splendid gospel of color,
           The rapt revelations of sound;
           For the morning-blue above us
           And the rusted gold of the fern,
           For the chickadee's call of valor
           Bidding the faint-heart turn;
           
           For fire and running water,
           Snowfall and summer rain;
           For sunsets and quiet meadows,
           The fruit and the standing grain;
           For the solemn hour of moonrise
           Over the crest of trees,
           When the mellow lights are kindled
           In the lamps of the centuries;
           
           For those who wrought aforetime,
           Led by the mystic strain
           To strive for the larger freedom,
           And live for the greater gain;
           For plenty of peace and playtime,
           The homely goods of earth,
           And for rare immaterial treasures
           Accounted of little worth;
           
           For art and learning and friendship,
           Where beneficent truth is supreme,--
           Those everlasting cities
           Built on the hills of dream;
           For all things growing and goodly
           That foster this life, and breed
           The immortal flower of wisdom
           Out of the mortal seed.
           
           But most of all for the spirit
           That cannot rest nor bide
           In stale and sterile convenience,
           Nor safety proven and tried,
           But still inspired and driven,
           Must seek what better may be,
           And up from the loveliest garden
           Must climb for a glimpse of sea.

Public Domain