Home  »  A Library of American Literature  »  The Key-Note

Stedman and Hutchinson, comps. A Library of American Literature:
An Anthology in Eleven Volumes. 1891.
Vols. IX–XI: Literature of the Republic, Part IV., 1861–1889

The Key-Note

By Mary Emily Bradley (1835–1898)

MANY are Nature’s voices;

Each wind has a different tone;

One carries an echo of laughter,

Another a sigh, or a moan;

Trees as they whisper together,

Waters that run to the sea,

Have speech of their own, but never

A voice that replies to me.

Once of a summer morning,

When summer was at her best,

Roses crowning her forehead,

Pearls of dew at her breast,

I fell on my knees before her,

I kissed her beautiful feet;

“Speak to me, Mother Nature!

Teach me your wisdom sweet.”

Babble of brooks responded,

Bees went murmuring by;

Trill of a lark rang faintly

Down from the distant sky;

They mocked my fond desire—

I longed for a vital word,

Not for a leaflet’s rustle,

Or the far-off song of a bird!

And baffled and disappointed,

I said—I will seek no more,

I will stand and knock no longer,

O Nature, at your door:

Entreating, you would not answer,

Calling, you would not come;

And this is the hopeless reason—

Nature is deaf and dumb!

Then from my aimless yearning

That could not attain its goal,

I went as the blind go, groping,

And found out a living soul;

Found out a soul responsive,

That brought to me unaware,

Oil of joy for my mourning,

Wine of life for despair.

Now—oh, beautiful wonder!

The mystery has grown clear,

The inarticulate voices

Have meaning for my ear;

Love is the magic key-note,

And by its subtle art

All that I sought of Nature

I find in a woman’s heart.