…if thou hast learned a truth which needs
No school of long experience, that the world
Is full of guilt and misery, and has seen
Enough of all its sorrows, crimes and cares,
To tire thee of it, enter this wild wood
And view the Haunts of Nature. The calm shade
Shall bring a kindred calm, and the sweet breeze
That makes the green leaves dance, shall waft a balm
To thy sick heart. Thou wilt find nothing here
Of all that pained thee in the haunts of men
…Partake the deep contentment…
…The sun from the blue sky
Looks in and sheds a blessing on the scene….
…The cool wind,
That stirs the stream in play, shall come to thee,
Like one that loves thee, nor will let thee pass
Ungreeted, and shall give its light embrace.
Inscription for the Entrance to a Wood
William Cullen Bryant
I found this poem in an old volume of “The Poems of William Cullen Bryant,” dated 1855. I love those old books that I come across in the used books place I frequent. I remember from grade school the nature poetry of this 19th century American writer, but rarely see it nowadays, as is the case with so much poetry. We don’t read it like people once did.
There is no place that offers quite the comfort and peace of a path through woods. When I enter the woods I know so well on my walks at the nature preserves, I feel a deep sense of gratitude and calm. I am leaving the world with it troubles and worries behind me for a time, entering a place where the only sounds are the birdsong, the sqirrels scampering in the leaves, and the wind in the trees.
Some days it is totally still, no wind and few sounds. Those walks make me think deeply of life, of ways I can live more in tune with what truly matters. I can silently meditate as I walk, looking into the woods around me, up into the leaves and to the blue sky above. When I leave, I am able to face life more calmly and, hopefully, with more courage and strength of mind and heart.