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.

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 ancient 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 toward 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 worshiper to hold

Communion with his Maker.

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.

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. O God when 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 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 thy works

Learn to conform the order of our lives.