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Thomas Cole's poetry

the collected poems of America's foremost painter of the Hudson River School reflecting his feelings for nature and the romantic spirit of the Nineteenth Century

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19. Lines Written after a Walk on [a] Beautiful Morning in November
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Lines Written after a Walk on [a] Beautiful Morning in November

Unhoped for joys are always welcomest,
And fountains in the desert doubly bless'd—
So 'mid the storms of the declining year
More beautiful the sunny hours appear—
From darkling dreams of night I wake, and lo!
Through the unmeasured depths of heaven flow,
The unresounding tides of gold and azure—
The earth with light is filled, my heart with pleasure.
My footsteps lead through that contiguous grove,
Where oft I've wander'd with the friends I love;
But 'tis no more umbrageous and green
As in the summer months; but slant between
The innumerable trunks the sunbeams play,
And weave with shade, a mingled night and day.
Hid is the earth, by withering foliage brown'd
The brightest loveliest wild-flowers' chosen ground;
Where beamed amid the shade their modest eyes,
The walnut now and chaliced acorn lies
Crush'd are the crackling leaves although I tread
Gently; for I remember o'er my head,
In July's sultriness and glare they made
A most inviting paradise of shade;
Coolness and perfume giving to the breeze,
And to the soul an atmosphere of peace—
O! never! never! should the friends laid low,
(Like these sere leaves) from out the memory go;
And as around their graves we chance to tread,
Let us recall the virtues of the dead—
For even these relics of the vanish'd year
A lingering, living, balmy fragrance bear—


The Hudson lies below, a mirror'd heaven;
Stainless, save where the joyous hills are given
With grassy slope, dark rock, and breezy wood
In purple beauty to the wooing flood—
Yon sails unruffled now, by torturing storms,
Like swans enamoured of their own bright forms;
Or spirits that have left the sky to gaze
Upon the earth's clear mirror, in amaze—
Supported on unclosing wings they float
As wind-borne music's softest, sweetest note.
But yet they move, the deep unresting tide
Bears quickly onward; distance soon will hide
Their voyaging towards the main—Thus we
Upon the winding stream of human life,
In its calm, happier days, when wo and strife
Are far; live all within ourselves—forget
The ebbing tide of time, is swiftly set
Towards eternity; nor think that storm
May soon o'ertake us, and our course deform—
E'en now upon yon distant bark a change
Is come—the west-wind in its boundless range
Has breathed upon it gently, and a shade
Deep blue and dark of rippling waves is laid
Athwart the lower heaven and from the stream
The pictured form is vanish'd like a dream—
The mountains are before me; the strong chain
That binds to central earth the prostrate plain—
They like high watch-towers o'er the wide spread land
Upon the shore of heaven's ocean stand—
And I have thought that such might landmarks be
To voyaging spirits on th' etherial sea—
And they are still; and stern—with fixed look;
But beautiful like those who have forsook
All earthly thoughts for holier things on high
And hold alone communion with the sky—
Few days are past, since in a robe of gold,
And purple they were clad; but now the fold,


Is of a soberer hue and thinly spread
Like drapery o'er the features of the dead—
From those aerial castles to my feet
Extends a scene such as the eye can meet
Not frequently, although earth's realms are wide
And beauty does in every clime abide—
A landscape where, lawn, wood so interlace
And hill meets vale in such a soft embrace;
And in the midst a basin deeply placed
To catch the azure that the heavens waste—
Poets may leave their Grecian Temple well
Content, in this our western vale to dwell.
I hear the voice of stillness the sweet sound
Of unseen waters, that from some profound
Have utt'rance, filling the echoless sky
With one long breath of music—And the sigh
Of the responsive hills, is like soft grief
That in itself alone, finds best relief—
O! let me fill my soul with this bright scene
And garner up its beauty ere the sheen
That this heaven-favored day has given,
By wintry storms is from its bosom riven—
Though now it glows resplendent 'neath the sun;
And streams through silent groves undimpled run;
And mountain shades alone in hollows lie,
Those calm blue cradles of tranquility—
And the unrobed woods are softly warm
And quiet sleeping as though never storm
Had tortured them—Alas! too soon must come
The conflict of the winds, that from the womb,
Of the vast circumambient shall be born
Giants—He of the south who howls in scorn,
And heaves the deluge on the shrinking land—
And He who from the north puts forth his hand,
And shakes down heaven in the chilling drift,
And wields the viewless ice-bolt keen and swift—
E'en now upon the far horizons verge


A gloom uplifts; it is the foremost surge,
Of winter's darksome sea—
So quickly fly
All beauteous things, we gaze and love—they die.
Be it not mine ungrateful thoughts to raise;
Beauty though transient, sheds on us its rays,
To warm and vivifie—Transient is the sun;
But earth rejoices as his course is run—
T. C. Catskill 1833