The Poetical Works of Elizabeth Margaret Chandler/The Woods Wanderer

The Woods WandererEdit

Day after day, I wander'd on alone—
The stricken heart is fearless; and the woods,
Amidst whose far-stretch'd depths a solemn moan
Of winds was ever sounding, and whose floods,
Pour'd ‘midst unbroken solitudes, had ceased
To waken mine to terror. I had learn'd,
E'en when no moon-beam the pale night clouds fleeced,
To thread their trackless mazes, while I turn'd
For guidance to the stars that high above me burn'd.

They who have never seen the broad blue sky,
Save through the smoke-dimm'd air of crowded streets,
Can never know how truly gloriously
It bendeth o'er the wilderness, and meets
The tall brows of the mountains. It must be
The veriest clod that wears a human form,
Who round him those majestic forms could see,
And o'er his head the eagle and the storm,
Nor feel a nobler pulse within his bosom warm.

I had laid down to slumber—but there came
A sound that night upon the fitful wind,
That kept me waking. No electric flame
Flash'd o'er the heavens—yet my thoughts could find
No sound more like to it, than the low growl
Of worn-out thunder; wrapt in thought I lay,
With nature's glory telling to my soul
Of God's own presence, till the coming day
O'er the fair orient stole, to light me on my way.

I stood, at sunrise, where Lake Erie's wave
Caught on its foamy crest the rosy light;
All round was solitude and silence, save
The voice of nature's joy. Against the bright
And pearly sky, a thin blue smoke-curl rose
From the far shore, and floated on the air,
And the slant sunbeam might to view disclose
One distant piroque that its waters bare;
All else was lone and wild, as it was lovely, there.

Still sent that deep sound forth its solemn tone,
Louder and louder, as I onward fared,
Northward where Niagara led me on,
O'er tangled brake, and green, and flower-strewn sward.
At length I reached the spot—and such a sight!
Even now the wild blood rushes through my brain,
And my heart reels with faintness, as the light
Of memory restores that scene again,
And paints it to my view as I beheld it then.

Broad, dark, and deep, the river hurried on,
Pouring the volume of its mighty flood
Right to the yawning steep!—no pause—down—down
The gather'd sea was hurl'd! half stunn'd I stood
Upon the shaken earth, and almost wept
With awe and fear and admiration, wild
And passionate;—like clouds on high were swept
In spray the shatter'd waves; while bending mild,
Over the turbulent gulf, a gorgeous rainbow smiled.

The sun went down on that vast solitude,—
And underneath the solemn stars, alone
With God, and his stupendous works, I stood;
Where, since their first creation, haply none
Save the rude Indian, e'er had trod or gazed
On that magnificence! to earth I bent
My humbled brow, yet with a soul upraised,
And conscious of a nobler being, bent
By the felt presence of the great Omnipotent.