Inscription for the Entrance to a Wood by William Cullen Bryant
Stranger, if thou hast learned a truth which needs No school of long experience, that the world Is full of guilt and misery, and hast 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, And made thee loathe thy life. The primal curse Fell, it is true, upon the unsinning earth, But not in vengance. God hath yoked to guilt Her pale tormentor, Misery. Hence these shades Are still the abode of gladness; the thick roof Of green and stirring branches is alive And musical with birds, that sing and sport In wantonness of spirit; while below The squirrel, with raised paws and form erect, Chirps merrily. Throngs of insects in the shade Try their thin wings and dance in the warm beam. That waked them into life. Even the green trees Partake the deep contentment; as they bend To the soft winds, the sun from the blue sky Looks in and sheds a blessing on the scene. Scarce less the cleft-born wildflower seems to enjoy Existence, than the winged plunderer That sucks its sweets. The mossy rocks themselves, And the old and ponderous trunks of prostrate trees That lead from knoll to knoll a causeway rude, Or bridge the sunken brook, and their dark roots, With all their roots upon them, twisting high, Breathe fixed tranquility. The rivulet Sends forth glad sounds, and tripping o'er its bed Of pebbly sands, or leaping down the rocks Seems, with continuous laughter, to rejoice In its own being. Softly tread the marge, Lest from her midway perch thou scare the wren That dips her bill in water. 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.