The Temple of the Wood

Along the highway as we pace,
        With languid steps and slow,
Enfolds us like a dream the grace
        Of branches drooping low,
And glad beneath green bending boughs,
        And o’er untrodden grass,
With wondering hearts and grateful vows
        As worshippers we pass.

A temple of untold delight
        Where mystic altars wait,
With hawthorns in their fillets white
        Attendant at the gate.
And dare we in our hardihood
        Pollute the vacant shrine,
Nor fear a presence in the wood
        Majestic and divine?

In silent ranks on either hand,
        Unbroken by a breeze,
Like priestly ministrants they stand,
        A waiting train of trees.
Within their solemn brotherhood
        Is nought of worldly care;
A sanctuary of the wood
        They guard in secret there.

O shade of Dian, dimly grand,
        That haunts the forest way,
The arrows in thy mighty hand
        Launch not on us, we pray.
Not ours to press with revel rude
        Upon thy privacy:
Within thy temple of the wood
        True worshippers are we!

Source: Atalanta 6.72 (September 1893): 809. Print.

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