The Earth Waxeth Old

Isabella Valancy Crawford
Canadian
1846 – 1887

 

When yellow-lock’d and crystal ey’d
I dream’d green woods among;
Where tall trees wav’d from side to side,
And in their green breasts deep and wide,
I saw the building blue jay hide,
O, then the earth was young!

The winds were fresh and brave and bold,
The red sun round and strong;
No prophet voice chill, loud and cold,
Across my woodland dreamings roll’d,
‘The green earth waxeth sere and old,
That once was fair and young!’

I saw in scarr’d and knotty bole,
The fresh’ning of the sap;
When timid spring gave first small dole,
Of sunbeams thro’ bare boughs that stole,
I saw the bright’ning blossoms roll,
From summer’s high pil’d lap.

And where an ancient oak tree lay
The forest stream across,
I mus’d above the sweet shrill spray,
I watch’d the speckl’d trout at play,
I saw the shadows dance and sway
On ripple and on moss.

I pull’d the chestnut branches low,
As o’er the stream they hung,
To see their bursting buds of snow—
I heard the sweet spring waters flow—
My heart and I we did not know
But that the earth was young!

I joy’d in solemn woods to see,
Where sudden sunbeams clung,
On open space of mossy lea,
The violet and anemone,
Wave their frail heads and beckon me—
Sure then the earth was young!

I heard the fresh wild breezes birr,
New budded boughs among,
I saw the deeper tinting stir
In the green tassels of the fir,
I heard the pheasant rise and whirr,
Above her callow young.

I saw the tall fresh ferns prest,
By scudding doe and fawn;
I say the grey dove’s swelling breast,
Above the margin of her nest;
When north and south and east and west
Roll’d all the red of dawn.

At eventide at length I lay,
On grassy pillow flung;
I saw the parting bark of day,
With crimson sails and shrouds all gay,
With golden fires drift away,
The billowy clouds among.

I saw the stately planets sail
On that blue ocean wide;
I saw blown by some mystic gale,
Like silver ship in elfin tale,
That bore some damsel rare and pale,
The moon’s slim crescent glide.

And ev’ry throb of spring
The rust’ling boughs among,
That filled the silver vein of brook,
That lit with bloom the mossy nook,
Cried to my boyish bosom: ‘Look!
How fresh the earth and young!’

The winds were fresh, the days as clear
As crystals set in gold.
No shape, with prophet-mantle drear,
Thro’ those old woods came drifting near,
To whisper in my wond’ring ear,
‘The green earth waxeth old.’

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