You cannot take from out my heart the growing,
The green, sweet growing, and the vivid thrill.
'O Earth,' you cry, 'you should be old, not glowing
With youth and all youth's strength and beauty still!'
Old, and the new hopes stirring in my bosom!
Old, and my children drawing life from me!
Old, in my womb the tender bud and blossom!
Old, steeped in richness and fertility!
Old, while the growing things call to each other,
In language I alone can understand:
'How she doth nourish us, this wondrous mother
Who is so beautiful and strong and grand!'
Old, while the wild things of the forest hide them
In my gray coverts, which no eye can trace!
Hunted or hurt, 'tis my task to provide them
Healing and soothing and a hiding place.
And then, my human children, could you listen
To secrets whispered in the stillness deep
Of noonday, or when night-dews fall and glisten-
'Tis on my bosom that men laugh and weep.
Some tell me moving tales of love and passion,
Of gladness all too great to be pent in-
The sweet, old theme which does not change its fashion-
Another cries out brokenly of sin.
While others filled with sorrow, fain to share it,
Hide tear-wet faces on my soft brown breast,
Sobbing: 'Dear Mother Earth, we cannot bear it,
Grim death has stolen all that we loved best!'
The old familiar cry of loss and sorrow
I hear to-day-I heard it yesterday-
Ay, and will hear in every glad to-morrow
That ye may bring to me, O Century.
I answer mourner, penitent, and lover,
With quick'ning stir, with bud and leaf and sap:
'Peace, peace,' I say, 'when life's brief day is over
Ye shall sleep soundly in your mother's lap.'
The loss, the longing of mankind I'm sharing,
The hopes, the joys, the laughter and the tears,
And yet you think I should be old, uncaring,
The barren, worn-out plaything of the years!
Past centuries have not trodden out my greenness
With all their marches, as you well can see,
Nor will you bring me withered age or leanness.
March on-what are your hundred years to me
While life and growth within me glow and flourish,
While in the sunshine and the falling rain
I, the great Mother, do bring forth and nourish
The springtime blossom and the harvest grain?
March on, O Century, I am safe holden
In God's right hand, the garner-house of truth-
The hand that holds the treasure rare and golden
Of life, and sweetness, and eternal youth!