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THE CLEARING, by                     Poet's Biography
First Line: Here, where the river wheels
Last Line: Replace it with the creature.
Subject(s): Nature


Here, where the River wheels
Through countries called the midland,
Of this fair tract, the flower and crown,
Once stood a wild of woodland:
But now no belt of brown
Beech, alder, ash, or oaken,
Is left: and Autumn's Lamp reveals
All barren, bald, and broken.

A slope of rugged marl--
For copse and dreamy dingle,
The larches burned, the birches flayed,
Or gone for beam and shingle:
The beeches in whose shade
The hunter shaped his paddle,
With scrawly bush and brushwood-snarl,
Have vanished, stock and staddle.

Beside the Run whose flow
the season touched with flowers,
Or softly staunched with fallen leaves,
Or fed with perfumed showers,
A shirt with tattered sleeves
Slaps in the gust of summer,
And dimly, soapy breathings blow
Across the vagrant roamer.

Here, where the golden grace
Of moonlight fell in shatters,
By dark, a dingy, flickering line
Frets on the tossing waters:
For here, where then the pine
Tanned with his droppings scanty
This rock, the Poet's resting-place
Is propt, an Irish shanty.

O not upon the edge
Of grove, or ranging river,
At eve, or in the general day,
Where'er thy steps endeavor,
Shall thee such rest delay,
O dreamer in the Shadow--
By axe and beetle, blast and wedge,
Now torn from marge and meadow;

Thou, whom no sorrow sears,
Nor sour mischances harden,
Will seek no more the pitcher plant
To deck thy slender garden,
In this thy holy haunt:
Gone are the happy bowers,
And thou apart in other years
Must rove for other flowers.

The Spring wind will not come
Now like a pleasant rumor,
Nor the sultry song of harvest-fly
To sting the ear of Summer.
And when the woods are dry,
Or red with Autumn's dawning,
This bay will miss a music from
Dim arch or crimson awning;

Yet when November rains
Shall settle on the forest,
And wash the color from the wood,
His darlings from the florist,
'T will seem a glimpse of good,
A compensation tender,
Remembering that to this remains
No beauty now to render;

And that, for what we love,
Though doubt and dread benumb us,
The gracious Past, the yielded boon,
Can ne'er be taken from us:
Then let us hold what's gone--
And hug each greener minute,
Though shanties smoke in every cove
And Paddies rule the senate;

Yes, though for belt and bower
The hard dry tangle bristles,
And the bloomy hollows swarm and burn
With tickseed, tares, and thistles,
And the River runs forlorn--
We go not unrequited,
Whilst memory glasses heaven and flower
Wherein our love delighted.

And may this Picture gay,
Deep rooted in my bosom,
The blue above forever seal,
Forever shade the blossom
Unswept by worldly steel
Or Sorrow's fire and powder,
Give lordlier off the limb, and sway
The surgy summit prouder.

But if through bough and butt,
Time's dull steel chops and craunches
And lumber lies for noble stems,
And wreck for wreathing branches,
And all the glory dims--
May I, for deep-loved Nature,
Though brute his being, and base his hut,
Replace it with the Creature.





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