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The Wood - By Charlotte Bronte

BUT two miles more, and then we rest !

Well, there is still an hour of day,

And long the brightness of the West

Will light us on our devious way;

Sit then, awhile, here in this wood­

So total is the solitude,

We safely may delay.

These massive roots afford a seat,

Which seems for weary travellers made.

There rest. The air is soft and sweet

In this sequestered forest glade,

And there are scents of flowers around,

The evening dew draws from the ground;

How soothingly they spread !

Yes; I was tired, but not at heart;

No­that beats full of sweet content,

For now I have my natural part

Of action with adventure blent;

Cast forth on the wide vorld with thee,

And all my once waste energy

To weighty purpose bent.

Yet­say'st thou, spies around us roam,

Our aims are termed conspiracy ?

Haply, no more our English home

An anchorage for us may be ?

That there is risk our mutual blood

May redden in some lonely wood

The knife of treachery ?

Say'st thou­that where we lodge each night,

In each lone farm, or lonelier hall

Of Norman Peer­ere morning light

Suspicion must as duly fall,

As day returns­such vigilance

Presides and watches over France,

Such rigour governs all ?

I fear not, William; dost thou fear ?

So that the knife does not divide,

It may be ever hovering near:

I could not tremble at thy side,

And strenuous love­like mine for thee­

Is buckler strong, 'gainst treachery,

And turns its stab aside.

I am resolved that thou shalt learn

To trust my strength as I trust thine;

I am resolved our souls shall burn,

With equal, steady, mingling shine;

Part of the field is conquered now,

Our lives in the same channel flow,

Along the self-same line;

And while no groaning storm is heard,

Thou seem'st content it should be so,

But soon as comes a warning word

Of danger­straight thine anxious brow

Bends over me a mournful shade,

As doubting if my powers are made

To ford the floods of woe.

Know, then it is my spirit swells,

And drinks, with eager joy, the air

Of freedom­where at last it dwells,

Chartered, a common task to share

With thee, and then it stirs alert,

And pants to learn what menaced hurt

Demands for thee its care.

Remember, I have crossed the deep,

And stood with thee on deck, to gaze

On waves that rose in threatening heap,

While stagnant lay a heavy haze,

Dimly confusing sea with sky,

And baffling, even, the pilot's eye,

Intent to thread the maze­

Of rocks, on Bretagne's dangerous coast,

And find a way to steer our band

To the one point obscure, which lost,

Flung us, as victims, on the strand;­

All, elsewhere, gleamed the Gallic sword,

And not a wherry could be moored

Along the guarded land.

I feared not then­I fear not now;

The interest of each stirring scene

Wakes a new sense, a welcome glow,

In every nerve and bounding vein;

Alike on turbid Channel sea,

Or in still wood of Normandy,

I feel as born again.

The rain descended that wild morn

When, anchoring in the cove at last,

Our band, all weary and forlorn,

Ashore, like wave-worn sailors, cast­

Sought for a sheltering roof in vain,

And scarce could scanty food obtain

To break their morning fast.

Thou didst thy crust with me divide,

Thou didst thy cloak around me fold;

And, sitting silent by thy side,

I ate the bread in peace untold:

Given kindly from thy hand, 'twas sweet

As costly fare or princely treat

On royal plate of gold.

Sharp blew the sleet upon my face,

And, rising wild, the gusty wind

Drove on those thundering waves apace,

Our crew so late had left behind;

But, spite of frozen shower and storm,

So close to thee, my heart beat warm,

And tranquil slept my mind.

So now­nor foot-sore nor opprest

With walking all this August day,

I taste a heaven in this brief rest,

This gipsy-halt beside the way.

England's wild flowers are fair to view,

Like balm is England's summer dew,

Like gold her sunset ray.

But the white violets, growing here,

Are sweeter than I yet have seen,

And ne'er did dew so pure and clear

Distil on forest mosses green,

As now, called forth by summer heat,

Perfumes our cool and fresh retreat­

These fragrant limes between.

That sunset ! Look beneath the boughs,

Over the copse­beyond the hills;

How soft, yet deep and warm it glows,

And heaven with rich suffusion fills;

With hues where still the opal's tint,

Its gleam of poisoned fire is blent,

Where flame through azure thrills !

Depart we now­for fast will fade

That solemn splendour of decline,

And deep must be the after-shade

As stars alone to-night will shine;

No moon is destined­pale­to gaze

On such a day's vast Phoenix blaze,

A day in fires decayed !

There­hand-in-hand we tread again

The mazes of this varying wood,

And soon, amid a cultured plain,

Girt in with fertile solitude,

We shall our resting-place descry,

Marked by one roof-tree, towering high

Above a farm-stead rude.

Refreshed, erelong, with rustic fare,

We'll seek a couch of dreamless ease;

Courage will guard thy heart from fear,

And Love give mine divinest peace:

To-morrow brings more dangerous toil,

And through its conflict and turmoil

We'll pass, as God shall please.

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