Song of the Redwood-Tree

Song of the Redwood-Tree


A prophecy and indirection, a thought impalpable to breathe
     as air,
A chorus of dryads, fading, departing, or hamadryads departing,
A murmuring, fateful, giant voice, out of the earth and sky,
Voice of a mighty dying tree in the redwood forest dense.

Farewell my brethren,
Farewell O earth and sky, farewell ye neighboring waters,
My time has ended, my term has come.

Along the northern coast,
Just back from the rock-bound shore and the caves,
In the saline air from the sea in the Mendocino country,
With the surge for base and accompaniment low and hoarse,
With crackling blows of axes sounding musically driven by
     strong arms,
Riven deep by the sharp tongues of the axes, there in the
     redwood forest dense,
I heard the mighty tree its death-chant chanting.

The choppers heard not, the camp shanties echoed not,
The quick-ear'd teamsters and chain and jack- screw men
     heard not,
As the wood-spirits came from their haunts of a thousand
     years to join the refrain,
But in my soul I plainly heard.

Murmuring out of its myriad leaves,
Down from its lofty top rising two hundred feet high,
Out of its stalwart trunk and limbs, out of its
     foot-thick bark,

That chant of the seasons and time, chant not of the past
     only but the future.

You untold life of me,
And all you venerable and innocent joys,
Perennial hardy life of me with joys 'mid rain and
     many a summer sun
And the white snows and night and the wild winds;
O the great patient rugged joys, my soul's strong joys
     unreck'd by man
(For know I bear the soul befitting me, I too have
     consciousness, identity
And all the rocks and mountains have, and all the earth,)
Joys of the life befitting me and brothers mine,
Our time, our term has come.

Nor yield we mournfully majestic brothers,
We who have grandly fill'd our time;
With Nature's calm content, with tacit huge delight,
We welcome what we wrought for through the past,
And leave the field for them.
For them predicted long,
For a superber race, they too to grandly fill their time,
For them we abdicate, in them ourselves ye forest kings!
In them these skies and airs, these mountain peaks,
     Shasta, Nevadas
These huge precipitious cliffs, this amplitude, these
     valleys, far Yosemite
To be in them absorb'd, assimilated.

Then to a loftier strain,
Still prouder, more ecstatic rose the chant,
As if the heirs, the deities of the West,
Joining with master-tongue bore part.

Not wan from Asia's fetiches,
Nor red from Europe's old dynastic slaughter-house,
(Area of murder-plots of thrones, with scent left yet
     of wars and scaffolds everywhere,)

But come from Nature's long and harmless throes,
     peacefully builded thence

These virgin lands, lands of the Western shore,
To the new culminating man, to you, the empire new,
You promis'd long, we pledge, we dedicate.

You occult deep volitions,
You average spiritual manhood, purpose of all, pois'd
     on yourself, giving not taking law
You womanhood divine, mistress and source of all, whence
     life and love and aught that comes from life and love
You unseen moral essence of all the vast materials of
     America, (age upon age working in death the same as life
You that, sometimes known, oftener unknown, really shape and
     mould the New World, adjusting it to Time and Space
You hidden national will lying in your abysms, conceal'd
     but ever alert
You past and present purposes tenaciously pursued, may-be
     unconscious of yourselves
Unswerv'd by all the passing errors, perturbations of the
You vital, universal, deathless germs, beneath all

  By PanEris using Melati.

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