Alan Seeger

(22 June 1888 - 4 July 1916 / New York City, New York)

The Nympholept - Poem by Alan Seeger

There was a boy -- not above childish fears --
With steps that faltered now and straining ears,
Timid, irresolute, yet dauntless still,
Who one bright dawn, when each remotest hill
Stood sharp and clear in Heaven's unclouded blue
And all Earth shimmered with fresh-beaded dew,
Risen in the first beams of the gladdening sun,
Walked up into the mountains. One by one
Each towering trunk beneath his sturdy stride
Fell back, and ever wider and more wide
The boundless prospect opened. Long he strayed,
From dawn till the last trace of slanting shade
Had vanished from the canyons, and, dismayed
At that far length to which his path had led,
He paused -- at such a height where overhead
The clouds hung close, the air came thin and chill,
And all was hushed and calm and very still,
Save, from abysmal gorges, where the sound
Of tumbling waters rose, and all around
The pines, by those keen upper currents blown,
Muttered in multitudinous monotone.
Here, with the wind in lovely locks laid bare,
With arms oft raised in dedicative prayer,
Lost in mute rapture and adoring wonder,
He stood, till the far noise of noontide thunder,
Rolled down upon the muffled harmonies
Of wind and waterfall and whispering trees,
Made loneliness more lone. Some Panic fear
Would seize him then, as they who seemed to hear
In Tracian valleys or Thessalian woods
The god's hallooing wake the leafy solitudes;
I think it was the same: some piercing sense
Of Deity's pervasive immanence,
The Life that visible Nature doth indwell
Grown great and near and all but palpable . . .
He might not linger, but with winged strides
Like one pursued, fled down the mountain-sides --
Down the long ridge that edged the steep ravine,
By glade and flowery lawn and upland green,
And never paused nor felt assured again
But where the grassy foothills opened. Then,
While shadows lengthened on the plain below
And the sun vanished and the sunset-glow
Looked back upon the world with fervid eye
Through the barred windows of the western sky,
Homeward he fared, while many a look behind
Showed the receding ranges dim-outlined,
Highland and hollow where his path had lain,
Veiled in deep purple of the mountain rain.


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Read poems about / on: sunset, purple, wind, nature, sun, rose, rain, green, fear, heaven, lost, sky, god, world, tree, water



Poem Submitted: Thursday, January 1, 2004



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