We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
Every schoolkid in America used to have to memorize Bryant's Thanatopsis. A common culture. No more. While bound to the Massachusetts Berkshires, Bryant's career was in the NYC newspaper biz.
A Forest Hymn
The groves were God's first temples. Ere man learned To hew the shaft, and lay the architrave, And spread the roof above them,---ere he framed The lofty vault, to gather and roll back The sound of anthems; in the darkling wood, Amidst the cool and silence, he knelt down, And offered to the Mightiest solemn thanks And supplication. For his simple heart Might not resist the sacred influences, Which, from the stilly twilight of the place, And from the gray old trunks that high in heaven Mingled their mossy boughs, and from the sound Of the invisible breath that swayed at once All their green tops, stole over him, and bowed His spirit with the thought of boundless power And inaccessible majesty. Ah, why Should we, in the world's riper years, neglect God's ancient sanctuaries, and adore Only among the crowd, and under roofs, That our frail hands have raised? Let me, at least, Here, in the shadow of this aged wood, Offer one hymn---thrice happy, if it find Acceptance in His ear.
Rest of the poem is below the fold -
Father, thy hand Hath reared these venerable columns, thou Didst weave this verdant roof. Thou didst look down Upon the naked earth, and, forthwith, rose All these fair ranks of trees. They, in thy sun, Budded, and shook their green leaves in the breeze, And shot towards heaven. The century-living crow, Whose birth was in their tops, grew old and died Among their branches, till, at last, they stood, As now they stand, massy, and tall, and dark, Fit shrine for humble worshipper to hold Communion with his Maker. These dim vaults, These winding aisles, of human pomp and pride Report not. No fantastic carvings show The boast of our vain race to change the form Of thy fair works. But thou art here---thou fill'st The solitude. Thou art in the soft winds That run along the summit of these trees In music; thou art in the cooler breath That from the inmost darkness of the place Comes, scarcely felt; the barky trunks, the ground, The fresh moist ground, are all instinct with thee. Here is continual worship;---Nature, here, In the tranquility that thou dost love, Enjoys thy presence. Noiselessly, around, From perch to perch, the solitary bird Passes; and yon clear spring, that, midst its herbs, Wells softly forth and wandering steeps the roots Of half the mighty forest, tells no tale Of all the good it does. Thou hast not left Thyself without a witness, in these shades, Of thy perfections. Grandeur, strength, and grace Are here to speak of thee. This mighty oak--- By whose immovable stem I stand and seem Almost annihilated---not a prince, In all that proud old world beyond the deep, E'er wore his crown as lofty as he Wears the green coronal of leaves with which Thy hand has graced him. Nestled at his root Is beauty, such as blooms not in the glare Of the broad sun. That delicate forest flower With scented breath, and look so like a smile, Seems, as it issues from the shapeless mould, An emanation of the indwelling Life, A visible token of the upholding Love, That are the soul of this wide universe.
My heart is awed within me when I think Of the great miracle that still goes on, In silence, round me---the perpetual work Of thy creation, finished, yet renewed Forever. Written on thy works I read The lesson of thy own eternity. Lo! all grow old and die---but see again, How on the faltering footsteps of decay Youth presses----ever gay and beautiful youth In all its beautiful forms. These lofty trees Wave not less proudly that their ancestors Moulder beneath them. Oh, there is not lost One of earth's charms: upon her bosom yet, After the flight of untold centuries, The freshness of her far beginning lies And yet shall lie. Life mocks the idle hate Of his arch enemy Death---yea, seats himself Upon the tyrant's throne---the sepulchre, And of the triumphs of his ghastly foe Makes his own nourishment. For he came forth From thine own bosom, and shall have no end.
There have been holy men who hid themselves Deep in the woody wilderness, and gave Their lives to thought and prayer, till they outlived The generation born with them, nor seemed Less aged than the hoary trees and rocks Around them;---and there have been holy men Who deemed it were not well to pass life thus. But let me often to these solitudes Retire, and in thy presence reassure My feeble virtue. Here its enemies, The passions, at thy plainer footsteps shrink And tremble and are still. Oh, God! when thou Dost scare the world with falling thunderbolts, or fill, With all the waters of the firmament, The swift dark whirlwind that uproots the woods And drowns the village; when, at thy call, Uprises the great deep and throws himself Upon the continent, and overwhelms Its cities---who forgets not, at the sight Of these tremendous tokens of thy power, His pride, and lays his strifes and follies by? Oh, from these sterner aspects of thy face Spare me and mine, nor let us need the wrath Of the mad unchained elements to teach Who rules them. Be it ours to meditate, In these calm shades, thy milder majesty, And to the beautiful order of the works Learn to conform the order of our lives.