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The woods so strangely solemn and majestic,
The awful noontide twilight 'neath grand trees,
The hush like that of holy haunts monastic,
While mighty branches, lifting with the breeze,
Give glimpses of high heaven's cerulean sheen
The autumn-tinted leaves and boughs between--


Thus stands the picture. From the homestead door,
Close in the timber's edge, I strayed one day
To yonder knoll, where--as to some calm shore
A well-worn bark might drift in its decay--
A great man lies in pulseless, dreamless sleep,
O'er which two oaks untiring sentry keep.


A few fresh flowers, with reverent hand, I placed
Upon the grave--he loved fair nature's lore--
And with a quickened memory retraced
Our dear old village history once more;
Made up of all the close familiar ties
Of common country, lot, and families.


Then, from the knoll, a greensward path I took
Between the sunny cornfields and the wood,
With southern aspect and a fair off-look;
Till suddenly, with pulse hushed, I stood
Beneath a fretted vault, where branches high
Wove their bright tufts of crimson with blue sky.


The sombrous twilight with a breathless awe
Fell on my heart; the last year's rotting leaves
Strewed thickly the soft turf, on which I saw
Shy stalks of dark-stemmed maiden-hair in threes;
While round me rose hugh oaks, whose giant forms
Had wrestled with a century's winds and storms.


For life was there, strong life and struggle; scars
Seamed the firm bark closed over many a wound
Borne 'neath the tranquil eye of heaven's far stars;
For in their woe the oaks stood, never swooned:--
The great trunks writhed and twisted, groaned, then rose
To nobler height and loftier repose.


Faint heart, weak faith! How oft in weary pain,
In lifelong strife with hell's deceitful power,
I turn me to the brave old woods again,
Whose leafy coronals exultant tower,
And all their gold and crimson banners tost
On the wild wind, like some victorious host.