Home  »  Poems of Places An Anthology in 31 Volumes  »  Avenue in Savernake Forest

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
England: Vols. I–IV. 1876–79.

Savernake Forest

Avenue in Savernake Forest

By William Lisle Bowles (1762–1850)

HOW soothing sound the gentle airs that move

The innumerable leaves, high overhead,

When autumn first, from the long avenue

That lifts its arching height of ancient shade,

Steals here and there a leaf!
Within the gloom,

In partial sunshine white, some trunks appear

Studding the glens of fern; in solemn shade

Some mingle their dark branches, but yet all,

All make a sad, sweet music, as they move,

Not undelightful to a stranger’s heart.

They seem to say, in accents audible,

Farewell to summer, and farewell the strains

Of many a lithe and feathered chorister,

That through the depth of these incumbent woods

Made the long summer gladsome.
I have heard

To the deep-mingling sounds of organs clear

(When slow the choral anthem rose beneath)

The glimmering minster through its pillared aisles

Echo; but not more sweet the vaulted roof

Rang to those linkéd harmonies, than here

The high wood answers to the lightest breath

Of nature.
O, may such music steal,

Soothing the cares of venerable age,

From public toil retired; may it awake,

As, still and slow, the sun of life declines,

Remembrances, not mournful, but most sweet;

May it, as oft beneath the sylvan shade

Their honored owner strays, come like the sound

Of distant seraph harps, yet speaking clear!

How poor is every sound of earthly things,

When heaven’s own music waits the just and pure!