Verse > Anthologies > Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. > An American Anthology, 1787–1900
Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. (1833–1908).  An American Anthology, 1787–1900.  1900.
987. Ecce in Deserto
By Henry Augustin Beers
THE WILDERNESS a secret keeps
  Upon whose guess I go:
Eye hath not seen, ear hath not heard;
  And yet I know, I know,
Some day the viewless latch will lift,        5
  The door of air swing wide
To one lost chamber of the wood
  Where those shy mysteries hide,—
One yet unfound, receding depth,
  From which the wood-thrush sings,        10
Still luring in to darker shades,
  In—in to colder springs.
There is no wind abroad to-day.
  But hark!—the pine-tops’ roar,
That sleep and in their dreams repeat        15
  The music of the shore.
What wisdom in their needles stirs?
  What song is that they sing?
Those airs that search the forest’s heart,
  What rumor do they bring?        20
A hushed excitement fills the gloom,
  And, in the stillness, clear
The vireo’s tell-tale warning rings:
  “’T is near—’t is near—’t is near!”
As, in the fairy-tale, more loud        25
  The ghostly music plays
When, toward the enchanted bower, the prince
  Draws closer through the maze.
Nay—nay. I track a fleeter game,
  A wilder than ye know,        30
To lairs beyond the inmost haunt
  Of thrush or vireo.
This way it passed: the scent lies fresh;
  The ferns still lightly shake.
Ever I follow hard upon,        35
  But never overtake.
To other woods the trail leads on,
  To other worlds and new,
Where they who keep the secret here
  Will keep the promise too.        40


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