Verse > Anthologies > Samuel Kettell, ed. > Specimens of American Poetry
Samuel Kettell, ed.  Specimens of American Poetry.  1829.
The Valley of Silence
By William Cutter
HAS thy foot ever trod that silent dell?—
’T is a place for the voiceless thought to swell,
And the eloquent song to go up unspoken,
Like the incense of flowers whose urns are broken;
And the unveil’d heart may look in and see,        5
In that deep, strange silence, its motions free,
And learn how the pure in spirit feel
That unseen Presence to which they kneel.
No sound goes up from the quivering trees,
When they spread their arms to the welcome breeze,        10
They wave in the zephyr, they bow to the blast,
But they breathe not a word of the power that pass’d;
And their leaves come down on the turf and the stream,
With as noiseless a fall as the step of a dream;
And the breath that is bending the grass and the flowers        15
Moves o’er them as lightly as evening hours.
The merry bird lights down on that dell,
And hushing his breath, lest the song should swell,
Sits with folded wing, in the balmy shade,
Like a musical thought in the soul unsaid;        20
And they of strong pinion and loftier flight
Pass over that valley, like clouds in the night—
They move not a wing in that solemn sky,
But sail in a reverent silence by.
The deer in his flight has pass’d that way,        25
And felt the deep spell’s mysterious sway—
He hears not the rush of the path he cleaves,
Nor his bounding step on the trampled leaves.
The hare goes up on that sunny hill—
And the footsteps of morning are not more still.        30
And the wild, and the fierce, and the mighty are there—
Unheard in the hush of that slumbering air.
The stream rolls down in that valley serene,
Content in its beautiful flow to be seen;
And its fresh, flowery banks, and its pebbly bed        35
Were never yet told of its fountain-head.
And it still rushes on—but they ask not why;
With its smile of light it is hurrying by;
Still gliding or leaping, unwhisper’d, unsung,
Like the flow of bright fancies it flashes along.        40
The wind sweeps by, and the leaves are stirr’d,
But never a whisper or sigh is heard;
And when its strong rush laid low the oak,
Not a murmur the eloquent stillness broke;
And the gay young echoes, those mockers that lie        45
In the dark mountain sides, make no reply;
But hush’d in their caves, they are listening still
For the songs of that valley to burst o’er the hill.
I love society; I am o’erblest to hear
The mingling voices of a world; mine ear        50
Drinks in their music with a spiritual taste;
I love companionship on life’s gray waste,
And might not live unheard;—yet that still vale—
It had no fearful mystery in its tale—
Its hush was grand, not awful—as if there        55
The voice of nature were a breathing prayer.
’T was like a holy temple, where the pure
Might join in their hush’d worship, and be sure
No sound of earth could come—a soul kept still,
In faith’s unanswering meekness, for Heaven’s will—        60
Its eloquent thoughts sent upward and abroad,
But all its deep, hush’d voices kept for God!

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