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The green trees whispered low and mild;
It was a sound of joy!
They were my playmates when a child, And rocked me in their arms so wild!
Still they looked at me and smiled,
And ever whispered, mild and low, "Come be a child once more! "
And waved their long arms to and fro,
Into the blithe and breathing air,
Into the solemn wood,
Solemn and silent everywhere!
Nature with folded hands seemed there,
Kneeling at her evening prayer!
Like one in prayer I stood.
Before me rose an avenue
Of tall and sombrous pines;
Abroad their fan-like branches grew,
And, where the sunshine darted through,
In long and sloping lines.
And, falling on my weary brain,
Like a fast-falling shower,
The dreams of youth came back again;
Low lispings of the summer rain,
Dropping on the ripened grain,
Visions of childhood! Stay, O stay!
And distant voices seemed to say, "It cannot be! They pass away! Other themes demand thy lay,
Thou art no more a child!
"The land of Song within thee lies,
"Learn, that henceforth thy song shall be,
"There is a forest where the din Of iron branches sounds!
A mighty river roars between,
And whosoever looks therein,
Sees the heavens all black with sin,
Sees not its depths, nor bounds.
"Athwart the swinging branches cast,
Soft rays of sunshine pour,
Then comes the fearful wintry blast;
Our hopes, like withered leaves, fall fast;
Pallid lips say, 'It is past!
We can return no more!'
"Look then, into thine heart, and write!
Yes, into Life's deep stream!
All forms of sorrow and delight,
All solemn Voices of the Night,