From Lightning and Tempest

THE spring-wind pass’d through the forest, and whispered low in the leaves,

And the cedar toss’d her head, and the oak stood firm in his pride ;

The spring-wind pass’d through the town, through the housetops, casements, and eaves,

And whisper’d low in the hearts of the men, and the men replied,

Singing—’Let us rejoice in the light

Of our glory, and beauty, and might ;

Let us follow our own devices, and foster our own desires.

As firm as our oaks in our pride, as our cedars fair in our sight,

We stand like the trees of the forest that brave the frosts and the fires.’


The storm went forth to the forest, the plague went forth to the town,

And the men fell down to the plague, as the trees fell down to the gale ;

And their bloom was a ghastly pallor, and their smile was a ghastly frown,

And the song of their hearts was changed to a wild, disconsolate wail,

Crying—’God ! we have sinn’d, we have sinn’d,

We are bruised, we are shorn, we are thinn’d,

Our strength is turn’d to derision, our pride laid low in the dust,

Our cedars are cleft by Thy lightnings, our oaks are strew’d by Thy wind,

And we fall on our faces seeking Thine aid, though Thy wrath is just.’


Published in ‘Sea Spray and Smoke Drift’ (1867).