THE PINE FOREST OF THE CASCINE NEAR PISA
by Percy Bysshe Shelley
Dearest, best and brightest,
To the woods and to the fields!
Dearer than this fairest day
Which, like thee to those in sorrow,
Comes to bid a sweet good-morrow
To the rough Year just awake
In its cradle in the brake.
The eldest of the Hours of Spring,
Into the Winter wandering,
Looks upon the leafless wood,
And the banks all bare and rude;
Found, it seems, this halcyon Morn
In February’s bosom born,
Bending from Heaven, in azure mirth,
Kissed the cold forehead of the Earth,
And smiled upon the silent sea,
And bade the frozen streams be free;
And waked to music all the fountains,
And breathed upon the rigid mountains,
And made the wintry world appear
Like one on whom thou smilest, Dear.
Radiant Sister of the Day,
Awake! arise! and come away!
To the wild woods and the plains,
To the pools where winter rains
Image all the roof of leaves,
Where the pine its garland weaves
Sapless, gray, and ivy dun
Round stems that never kiss the sun—
To the sandhills of the sea,
Where the earliest violets be.
Now the last day of many days,
All beautiful and bright as thou,
The loveliest and the last, is dead,
Rise, Memory, and write its praise!
And do thy wonted work and trace
The epitaph of glory fled;
For now the Earth has changed its face,
A frown is on the Heaven’s brow.
We wandered to the Pine Forest
That skirts the Ocean’s foam,
The lightest wind was in its nest,
The tempest in its home.
The whispering waves were half asleep,
The clouds were gone to play,
And on the woods, and on the deep
The smile of Heaven lay.
It seemed as if the day were one
Sent from beyond the skies,
Which shed to earth above the sun
A light of Paradise.
We paused amid the pines that stood,
The giants of the waste,
Tortured by storms to shapes as rude
With stems like serpents interlaced.
How calm it was—the silence there
By such a chain was bound,
That even the busy woodpecker
Made stiller by her sound
The inviolable quietness;
The breath of peace we drew
With its soft motion made not less
The calm that round us grew.
It seemed that from the remotest seat
Of the white mountain’s waste
To the bright flower beneath our feet,
A magic circle traced;—
A spirit interfused around,
A thinking, silent life;
To momentary peace it bound
Our mortal nature’s strife;—
And still, it seemed, the centre of
The magic circle there,
Was one whose being filled with love
The breathless atmosphere.
Were not the crocuses that grew
Under that ilex-tree
As beautiful in scent and hue
As ever fed the bee?
We stood beneath the pools that lie
Under the forest bough,
And each seemed like a sky
Gulfed in a world below;
A purple firmament of light
Which in the dark earth lay,
More boundless than the depth of night,
And clearer than the day—
In which the massy forests grew
As in the upper air,
More perfect both in shape and hue
Than any waving there.
Like one beloved the scene had lent
To the dark water’s breast
Its every leaf and lineament
With that clear truth expressed;
There lay far glades and neighbouring lawn,
And through the dark green crowd
The white sun twinkling like the dawn
Under a speckled cloud.
Sweet views, which in our world above
Can never well be seen,
Were imaged by the water’s love
Of that fair forest green.
And all was interfused beneath
With an Elysian air,
An atmosphere without a breath,
A silence sleeping there.
Until a wandering wind crept by,
Like an unwelcome thought,
Which from my mind’s too faithful eye
Blots thy bright image out.
For thou art good and dear and kind,
The forest ever green,
But less of peace in S—’s mind,
Than calm in waters, seen.
Image Credit: Parco del Cascine di Tavola, yelp.com