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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

Thoreau’s Flute

By Louisa May Alcott (1832–1888)

[The Atlantic Monthly. 1863.]

WE, sighing, said, “Our Pan is dead;

His pipe hangs mute beside the river;

Around it wistful sunbeams quiver,

But Music’s airy voice is fled.

Spring mourns as for untimely frost;

The bluebird chants a requiem;

The willow-blossom waits for him;—

The Genius of the wood is lost.”

Then from the flute, untouched by hands,

There came a low, harmonious breath:

“For such as he there is no death;

His life the eternal life commands;

Above man’s aims his nature rose:

The wisdom of a just content

Made one small spot a continent,

And turned to poetry Life’s prose.

“Haunting the hills, the stream, the wild,

Swallow and aster, lake and pine,

To him grew human or divine,—

Fit mates for this large-hearted child.

Such homage Nature ne’er forgets,

And yearly on the coverlid

’Neath which her darling lieth hid

Will write his name in violets.

“To him no vain regrets belong,

Whose soul, that finer instrument,

Gave to the world no poor lament,

But wood-notes ever sweet and strong.

O lonely friend! he still will be

A potent presence, though unseen,—

Steadfast, sagacious, and serene:

Seek not for him,—he is with thee.”