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Through the twisted roots of stalwart oaks
Chipped by the woodpecker's tiny strokes,
Through the crevices of limestone ledges
Mossed o'er and dripping at the edges,
Deep in cool shadows from morn to night,
Its brim with pale jewel-weed bedight,
Gushes the spring, with a noiseless flow,
Like a pulse, mysterious, strong, and slow.


To that noiseless spring below the hill,
Winter and summer, we go to fill
Pitcher and pail: and over the brink
Dips Dolly's pitcher, for "dolls must drink;"
The coconut cup stands on the edge
Of the mossy, dripping, limestone ledge,
And the thirsty traveller loves the cool
Plash of the cup in that living pool.


Out of the shadow into the sun
The waters with rippling gladness run;
And where they break into full sunshine
Come neighing horses and meek-eyed kine,
With gamboling younglings at their side,
To quaff at the brook; their nostrils wide
Laid close to the clear, refreshing stream,
Where flashing sunbeams twinkle and gleam.


Out of the shadow, through sunny mead,
Were the mother-ducks their young broods lead
To float all day on the tranquil tide,
Past the willow copse to wheel and glide;
The wild drake comes with his mate to stray
All summer along its margin gay,
And their screams, and quackle of delight,
Are heard till the brook winds out of sight.


Such is the household spring of today;
And far, far back, I have heard men say,
The lordly chiefs of another race
Loved the doe and antlered buck to chase
O'er these wooded knolls; and from the spring
The hands of the children often bring
An arrow-head, long, shapely, and fair,
To ask its story, then keep with care.


Man's generations have come and gone,
And the noiseless spring still gushes on;
The path to that spring below the hill
By merry prattlers is threaded still;
And, with the shadows that o'er it play,
A shadow, more shadowy still than they,
Walks toward the spring at a thoughtful pace,
A pensive smile on the ag├Ęd face.


Often that shadow flits in between
My eyes, and the landscape's summer sheen;
The shoulders bent, and the cap, snow white,
Flecked with the pathway's shadow and light;
Yet something more than the mortal grace
Now hovers over the tender face,
And the eyes are turned, with an infinite peace,
To that place where all labors and sorrows cease.