Paul Hamilton Hayne

Under the Pine

  To the memory of Henry Timrod

The same majestic pine is lifted high
Against the twilight sky,
The same low, melancholy music grieves
Amid the topmost leaves,
As when I watched, and mused, and dreamed with him,
Beneath these shadows dim.

O Tree! hast thou no memory at thy core
Of one who comes no more?
No yearning memory of those scenes that were
So richly calm and fair,
When the last rays of sunset, shimmering down,
Flashed like a royal crown?

And he, with hand outstretched and eyes ablaze,
Looked forth with burning gaze,
And seemed to drink the sunset like strong wine,
Or, hushed in trance divine,
Hailed the first shy and timorous glance from far
Of evening's virgin star?

O Tree! against thy mighty trunk he laid
His weary head; thy shade
Stole o'er him like the first cool spell of sleep:
It brought a peace so deep
The unquiet passion died from out his eyes,
As lightning from stilled skies.

And in that calm he loved to rest, and hear
The soft wind-angels, clear
And sweet, among the uppermost branches sighing:
Voices he heard replying
(Or so he dreamed) far up the mystic height,
And pinions rustling light.

O Tree! have not his poet-touch, his dreams
So full of heavenly gleams,
Wrought through the folded dullness of thy bark,
And all thy nature dark
Stirred to slow throbbings, and the fluttering fire
Of faint, unknown desire?

At least to me there sweeps no rugged ring
That girds the forest king,
No immemorial stain, or awful rent
(The mark of tempest spent),
No delicate leaf, no lithe bough, vine-o'ergrown,
No distant, flickering cone,

But speaks of him, and seems to bring once more
The joy, the love of yore;
But most when breathed from out the sunset-land
The sunset airs are bland,
That blow between the twilight and the night,
Ere yet the stars are bright;

For then that quiet eve comes back to me,
When deeply, thrillingly,
He spake of lofty hopes which vanquish Death;
And on his mortal breath
A language of immortal meanings hung,
That fired his heart and tongue.

For then unearthly breezes stir and sigh,
Murmuring, "Look up! 'tis I:
Thy friend is near thee! Ah, thou canst not see!"
And through the sacred tree
Passes what seems a wild and sentient thrill—
Passes, and all is still!—

Still as the grave which holds his tranquil form,
Hushed after many a storm,—
Still as the calm that crowns his marble brow,
No pain can wrinkle now,—
Still as the peace—pathetic peace of God—
That wraps the holy sod,

Where every flower from our dead minstrel's dust
Should bloom, a type of trust,—
That faith which waxed to wings of heavenward might
To bear his soul from night,—
That faith, dear Christ! whereby we pray to meet
His spirit at God's feet!

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