University of Virginia Library





The tapping of a mature maple for the syrup, however recklessly done, does not necessarily kill it. No; since being an aboriginal child of Nature, it is doubtless blest with a constitution enabling it to withstand a good deal of hard usage. But systematically to bleed the immature trunk, though some sugar-makers, detected in the act on ground not their own, aver that it does the sylvan younker a deal of good, can hardly contribute to the tree's amplest development or insure patriarchal long life to it. Certain it is, that in some young maples the annual tapping would seem to make precocious the autumnal ripening or change of the leaf. And such premature change would seem strikingly to enhance the splendor of the tints.

Someone, whose morals need mending,
Sallies forth like the pillaging bee;
He waylays the syrup ascending
In anyone's saccharine tree;
So lacking in conscience indeed,
So reckless what life he makes bleed,
That to get at the juices, his staple,
The desirable sweets of the Spring,
He poignards a shapely young maple,
In my second-growth coppice—its King.
Assassin! secure in a crime never seen,
The underwood dense, e'en his victim a screen,


So be, But the murder will out,
Never doubt, never doubt:
In season the leafage will tell,
Turning red ere the rime
Yet, in turning, all beauty excell
For a time, for a time!
Small thanks to the scamp. But, in vision, to me
A goddess mild pointing the glorified tree,
“So they change who die early, some bards who life render:
Keats, stabbed by the Muses, his garland's a splendor!”



An owl in his wonted day-long retirement ruffled by the meadow-lark curvetting and caroling in the morning-sun high over the pastures and woods, comments upon that rollicker, and in so doing lets out the meditation engrossing him when thus molested. But the weightiness of the wisdom ill agrees with its somewhat trilling expression; an incongruity attributable doubtless to the contagious influence of the reprehended malapert's overruling song.

So frolic, so flighty,
Leaving wisdom behind,
Lark, little you ween
Of the progress of mind.


While fantastic you're winging,
Up-curving and singing,
A skylarking dot in the sun;
Under eaves here in wood
My wits am I giving
To this latest theme:
Life blinks at strong light,
Life wanders in night like a dream—
Is then life worth living?



For a Boulder near the spot where the last Hardback was laid low By the new proprietor of the Hill of Arrowhead.

A weed grew here.—Exempt from use,
Weeds turn no wheel, nor run;
Radiance pure or redolence
Some have, but this had none.
And yet heaven gave it leave to live
And idle it in the sun.



Some of the more scintillant West Indian humming-birds are in frame hardly bigger than a bettle or bee.

Buccaneer in gemmed attire—
Ruby, amber, emerald, jet—
Darkling, sparkling dot of fire,
Still on plunder are you set?


Summer is your sea, and there
The flowers afloat you board and ravage,
Yourself a thing more dazzling fair—
Tiny, plumed, bejewelled Savage!
Midget! yet in passion a fell
Furioso, Creoles tell.
Wing'd are you Cupid in disguise
You flying spark of Paradise?



When Sherman's March was over
And June was green and bright,
She came among our mountains,
A freak of new delight;
Provokingly our banner
Salutes with Dixie's strain,—
Little rebel from Savannah,
Three Colonels in her train.
Three bearded Puritan colonels:
But O her eyes, her mouth—
Magnolias in their languor
And sorcery of the South.
High-handed rule of beauty,
Are wars for man but vain?
Behold, three disenslavers
Themselves embrace a chain!


But, loveliest invader,
Out of Dixie did ye rove
By sallies of your raillery
To rally us, or move?
For under all your merriment
There lurked a minor tone;
And of havoc we had tidings
And a roof-tree overthrown.
Ah, nurtured in the trial—
And ripened by the storm,
Was your gaiety your courage,
And levity its form?
O'er your future's darkling waters,
O'er your past, a frozen tide,
Like the petrel would you skim it,
Like the glancing skater glide?
But the ravisher has won her
Who the wooers three did slight;
To his fastness he has borne her
By the trail that leads thro' night.
With Peace she came, the rainbow,
And like a Bow did pass,
The balsam-trees exhaling,
And tear-drops in the grass.


Now laughed the leafage over
Her pranks in woodland scene:
Hath left us for the revel
Deep in Paradise the green?
In truth we will believe it
Under pines that sigh a balm,
Though o'er thy stone be trailing
Cypress-moss that drapes the palm.


Bloom or repute for graft or seed
In flowers the flower-gods never heed.
The rose-god once came down and took—
Form in a rose? Nay, but indeed
The meeker form and humbler look
Of Sweet-Briar, a wilding or weed.



It is but a floral superstition, as everybody knows, that this plant flowers only once in a century. When in any instance the flowering is for decades delayed beyond the normal period, (eight or ten years at furthest) it is owing to something retarding in the environment or soil.

But few they were who came to see
The Century-Plant in flower:
Ten cents admission—price you pay
For bon-bons of the hour.


In strange inert blank unconcern
Of wild things at the Zoo,
The patriarch let the sight-seers stare—
Nor recked who came to view.
But lone at night the garland sighed
While moaned the aged stem:
“At last, at last! but joy and pride
What part have I with them?”
Let be the dearth that kept me back
Now long from wreath decreed;
But, Ah, ye Roses that have passed
Accounting me a weed!



Hymned down the years from ages far,
The theme of lover, seer, and king,
Reign endless, Rose! for fair you are,
Nor heaven reserves a fairer thing.
To elfin ears the bell-flowers chime
Your beauty, Queen, your fame;
Your titles, blown thro' Ariel's clime,
Thronged trumpet-flowers proclaim.


Not less with me, a groundling, bear,
Here bold for once, by nature shy:—
If votaries yours be everywhere,
And flattering you the laureats vie,—
Meekness the more your heart should share.
O Rose, we plants are all akin,
Our roots enlock; Each strives to win
The ampler space, the balmier air.
But beauty, plainness, shade, and sun—
Here share-and-share-alike is none!
And, ranked with grass, a flower may dwell,
Cheerful, if never high in feather,
With pastoral sisters thriving well
In bloom that shares the broader weather;
Charmful, mayhap, in simple grace,
A lowlier Eden mantling in her face.
My Queen, so all along I lie,
But creep I can, scarce win your eye.
But, O, your garden-wall peer over,
And, if you blush, 'twill barely be
At owning kin with Cousin Clover
Who winsome makes the low degree.