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FOREST HYMN




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 supplications. 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,
Here, in the shadow of this ancient wood,
Offer one hymn, thrice happy if it find
Acceptance in His ear.

Bryant.