James Russell Lowell

(22 February 1819 – 12 August 1891 / Cambridge, Massachusetts)

A Mood - Poem by James Russell Lowell

I go to the ridge in the forest
I haunted in days gone by,
But thou, O Memory, pourest
No magical dropp in mine eye,
Nor the gleam of the secret restorest
That hath faded from earth and sky:
A Presence autumnal and sober
Invests every rock and tree,
And the aureole of October
Lights the maples, but darkens me.

Pine in the distance,
Patient through sun or rain,
Meeting with graceful persistence,
With yielding but rooted resistance,
The northwind's wrench and strain,
No memory of past existence
Brings thee pain;
Right for the zenith heading,
Friendly with heat or cold,
Thine arms to the influence spreading
Of the heavens, just from of old,
Thou only aspirest the more,
Unregretful the old leaves shedding
That fringed thee with music before,
And deeper thy roots embedding
In the grace and the beauty of yore;
Thou sigh'st not, 'Alas, I am older,
The green of last summer is sear!'
But loftier, hopefuller, bolder,
Winnest broader horizons each year.

To me 'tis not cheer thou art singing:
There's a sound of the sea,
O mournful tree,
In thy boughs forever clinging,
And the far-off roar
Of waves on the shore
A shattered vessel flinging.

As thou musest still of the ocean
On which thou must float at last,
And seem'st to foreknow
The shipwreck's woe
And the sailor wrenched from the broken mast,
Do I, in this vague emotion,
This sadness that will not pass,
Though the air throb with wings,
And the field laughs and sings,
Do I forebode, alas!
The ship-building longer and wearier,
The voyage's struggle and strife,
And then the darker and drearier
Wreck of a broken life?

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Poem Submitted: Thursday, May 10, 2012

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