by: John Greenleaf Whittier (1807-1892)

      OW strange to greet, this frosty morn,
      In graceful counterfeit of flower,
      These children of the meadows, born
      Of sunshine and of showers!
      How well the conscious wood retains
      The pictures of its flower-sown home,
      The lights and shades, the purple stains,
      And golden hues of bloom!
      It was a happy thought to bring
      To the dark season's frost and rime
      This painted memory of spring,
      This dream of summertime.
      Our hearts are lighter for its sake,
      Our fancy's age renews its youth,
      And dim-remembered fictions take
      The guise of present truth.
      A wizard of the Merrimac,--
      So old ancestral legends say,--
      Could call green leaf and blossom back
      To frosted stem and spray.
      The dry logs of the cottage wall,
      Beneath his touch, put out their leaves;
      The clay-bound swallow, at his call,
      Played round the icy eaves.
      The settler saw his oaken flail
      Take bud, and bloom before his eyes;
      From frozen pools he saw the pale
      Sweet summer lilies rise.
      To their old homes, by man profaned
      Came the sad dryads, exiled long,
      And through their leafy tongues complained
      Of household use and wrong.
      The beechen platter sprouted wild,
      The pipkin wore its old-time green,
      The cradle o'er the sleeping child
      Became a leafy screen.
      Haply our gentle friend hath met,
      While wandering in her sylvan quest,
      Haunting his native woodlands yet,
      That Druid of the West;
      And while the dew on leaf and flower
      Glistened in the moonlight clear and still,
      Learned the dusk wizard's spell of power,
      And caught his trick of skill.
      But welcome, be it new or old,
      The gift which makes the day more bright,
      And paints, upon the ground of cold
      And darkness, warmth and light!
      Without is neither gold nor green;
      Within, for birds, the birch-logs sing;
      Yet, summer-like, we sit between
      The autumn and the spring.
      The one, with bridal blush of rose,
      And sweetest breath of woodland balm,
      And one whose matron lips unclose
      In smiles of saintly calm.
      Fill soft and deep, O winter snow!
      The sweet azalea's oaken dells,
      And hide the banks where roses blow
      And swing the azure bells!
      O'erlay the amber violet's leaves,
      The purple aster's brookside home,
      Guard all the flowers her pencil gives
      A live beyond their bloom.
      And she, when spring comes round again,
      By greening slope and singing flood
      Shall wander, seeking, not in vain
      Her darlings of the wood.




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