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GEMS FOR THE FIRESIDE.
YooHE groves were God's first temples, o og 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 darklingwood, 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,
WILLIAM CULLEN BRYANT.
Here, in the shadow of this aged wood, Offer one hymn, thrice happy if it find Acceptance in His ear.
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 Thy breeze, And shot towards heaven. 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 or ... 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
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,
My heart is awed within me when I think
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 inen 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. Thou Dost scare the world with tempests, set on fire The heavens with falling thunderbolts, or fill, With all the waters of the firmament, The swift dark whirlwind that uproots the woods And drowns the villages; 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 prides, and lay his strifes and follies by?
O God! when