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In The Sugar Bush Post by :DonMartin-GA Category :Poems Author :W. M. Mackeracher Date :November 2011 Read :1906

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In The Sugar Bush

I halted at the margin of the wood,
For tortuous was the path, and overhead
Low branches hung, and roots and fragments rude
Of rock hindered the tardy foot. I led
My timid horse, that started at our tread
And looked about on every side in fear,
Until, arising from the jocund shed,
The voice of laughter broke upon our ear,
And through the chinks the light shone out as we drew near.

I tied the bridle rain about a tree,
And on the ample flatness of a stone
Awhile I lay. 'Tis very sweet to be
In social mirth's domain, unseen, alone,
Sweet to make others' happiness one's own:
And he who views the dance from still recess,
Or reads a love tale in a meadow, prone,
Secures the joy without the weariness.
And fills with love's delight, nor feels its sore distress.

This mind detained me in the night, but soon
Far other thoughts usurped my regal soul,
With the Supreme made fitter to commune
When human sympathy illumes the scroll
And points the secrets of the mighty Whole.
I've spurned the earth to roam the Universe,
And with the Eternal deadened Time's control,
For refuge from the shadow of a curse,
Or lust of curious lore--than maddest motive worse.

And Thou, Great Essence of all things that are,
Hast been to me most prodigal of grace,
Thou'st smiled on me in many a twinkling star,
The morn hath showered kisses on my face,
In Nature's arms, thy bodily embrace,
Not purest poet hath more fondled been.
'Tis true that I have often thought to trace,
Instead of peace, a harshness in thy mien,
And where I beauty sought, discordant sights obscene.

But not with aching heart I sought thee now,
That thou might'st numb with thy narcotic night
The restless pulse, oblivious balm bestow,
Infuse this frailty with thy glorious might,
And blind with beauty to the mortal blight.
Not even wilful love possessed me, when,
Behold, thy spirit stole upon my sight
And ravished me--What wonder that my ken
Forsook this little world of vanity and men?

And howsoe'er it seemed at other times
To my imperfect and diseasèd mind,
Which darkened with the shadow of men's crimes
Thy virtue, fancying in thee to find
Reflection of the ills that shake mankind,
Though on me now a tempest broke and war
Convulsed the elements, I would perceive behind,
Law, harmony, and purpose--That falling star
Seems sped to be the sun of new-formed worlds afar.

And yet the scene was such as often shares
The obscurest soul--no wondrous rarity,--
The slender maples holding to the stars
Their outstretched arms, as praying silently--
A sea of stars--a dancing, dazzling sea,
Tremendous, mighty, infinite, supreme,
Emblem of Might, Eternity's decree,
Half crediting the mythologic dream
And making of heaven th' abode that vulgar fancies deem.

A common scene, perchance, but, to the mind
Which Nature hath enlightened with her ray
Nothing in her is common.--Not confined,
Her beauty, to the sparkle and the play
Of solitary spring, or rare bouquet
Of tropic flowers; she hath grandeur more
Than crowns the mighty peaks of Himalay,
Or hurtles in the great Niagara's roar.
To me one beam of light can bring a priceless store.

Nay, more; the mind wherein her fulness dwells
Can beauty and sublimity instil
In all created things, till it excels
Even herself, though nurtured at her rill.
The mind may be a monarch if it will,
And that of which great Nature is the nurse
May rule itself, subjecting every ill,
And be the Sun, all phantoms to disperse,
And scatter glory round--Lord of the Universe.

What matter whether mortals own his sway?
He knows his kingdom is not of this world;
It is within--perchance some purer day
Will see the standard of his soul unfurled,
When Good, surviving, sees the Evil hurled
To final dissolution, and the force
Of worlds no longer round their centres whirled
Shall all combine and gather to the source,
To serve some nobler end--if such shall have recourse.

Rapt in the purple transport of a god,
Pacing the ether with star-treading stride,
With conscious power, imperial purpose shod,
And iris-crowned with radiating pride,
I seemed to move--nay, move--what throbbing side,
Intenses immortality! what brow
Thrills with severe conception!--deified,
As Pallas sprung.--Such did the gods allow--
I fear 'tis half a sin to tell what I do now.

If fire be stolen from Heaven, it is not
The theft consigns the mortal to the shock
Of the Olympian vengeance; such the lot
Of him whose earthly pride prepares the rock
And taints the air where the penal vultures flock,
Whose after-weakness welds the fettering chain;
Then gods despise and fellow mortals mock.
And here return me to the theme I've ta'en,
And sing the simple labors of the humble swain.

Their voices told they gave me welcome warm,
Though oft their faces I can scarcely see,
For steam-clouds now atween us rise and swarm,
And, rolling upward, find their vent in glee,
Like more--alas!--too eager to be free,
Who fear to go, yet shudder to remain.
Shall mortal spirits then be lost like ye?
'Tis ours, the burning heart, the boiling brain,
Which yield the vapor life.--But, then, ye fall in rain!

Ye fall in rain; ye change, but are not lost;
Ye reach the ocean, and the mighty sea
Absorbs you in her bosom with the host
Who have attested their eternity.
And, if this world we quicken, so shall we,
When this dim, fluttering earthly scene is through,
Commingle with the heroic and the free,
The pure, the good, the beautiful, the true,
Whose influence earth surrounds, and sheds its freshening dew.

* * * * *

I oped the door, supposing still 'twas night,
But what a morn!--I seemed to half intrude
In sacred fane upon a holy rite;
A purpled crimson peached the east, and strewed
The whole horizon round with amethyst-hued,
Blue-bending tints. And as I forward rode,
And in my hallowed east such vision viewed,
I thought of one o'er whom this glory glowed,
Who, like Aurora, soon would leave her soft abode.

(The end)
W. M. MacKeracher's poem: In The Sugar Bush

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