Verse > Anthologies > George Willis Cooke, ed. > The Poets of Transcendentalism: An Anthology
George Willis Cooke, comp.  The Poets of Transcendentalism: An Anthology.  1903.
By Franklin Benjamin Sanborn (1831–1917)
LONELY these meadows green,
Silent these warbling woodlands must appear
To us, by whom our Poet-sage was seen
Wandering among their beauties, year by year,—
Listening with delicate ear        5
To each fine note that fell from tree or sky,
Or rose from earth on high,—
Glancing his falcon eye,
In kindly radiance, as of some young star,
At all the shows of Nature near and far,        10
Or on the tame procession plodding by
Of daily toil and care,—and all Life’s pageantry;
Then darting forth warm beams of wit and love,
Wide as the sun’s great orbit, and as high above
These paths wherein our lowly tasks we ply.        15
His was the task and his the lordly gift
Our eyes, our hearts, bent earthward, to uplift;
He found us chained in Plato’s fabled cave,
Our faces long averted from the blaze
Of Heaven’s broad light, and idly turned to gaze        20
On shadows, flitting ceaseless as the wave
That dashes ever idly on some isle enchanted;
By shadows haunted
We sat,—amused in youth, in manhood daunted,
In vacant age forlorn,—then slipped within the grave,        25
The same dull chain still clasped around our shroud.
These captives, bound and bowed,
He from their dungeon like that angel led,
Who softly to imprisoned Peter said,
“Arise up quickly! gird thyself and flee!”        30
We wist not whose the thrilling voice, we knew our souls were free.
Ah! blest those years of youthful hope,
When every breeze was zephyr, every morning May!
Then, as we bravely climbed the slope
Of life’s steep mount, we gained a wider scope        35
At every stair,—and could with joy survey
The track beneath us, and the upward way;
Both lay in light,—round both the breath of love
Fragrant and warm from Heaven’s own tropic blew;
Beside us what glad comrades smiled and strove!        40
Beyond us what dim visions rose to view!
With thee, dear Master, through that morning land
We journeyed happy; thine the guiding hand,
Thine the far-looking eye, the dauntless smile;
Thy lofty song of hope did the long march beguile.        45
Now scattered wide and lost to loving sight
The gallant train
That heard thy strain!
’T is May no longer,—shadows of the night
Beset the downward path, thy light withdrawn,—        50
And with thee vanished that perpetual dawn
Of which thou wert the harbinger and seer.
Yet courage! comrades,—though no more we hear
Each other’s voices, lost within this cloud
That Time and Chance about our way have cast,—        55
Still his brave music haunts the hearkening ear,
As ’mid bold cliffs and dewy passes of the Past
Be that our countersign! for chanting loud,
His magic song, though far apart we go,
Best shall we thus discern both friend and foe.        60

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