Home  »  Poems of Places An Anthology in 31 Volumes  »  The Wood of Chancellorsville

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
America: Vols. XXV–XXIX. 1876–79.

Southern States: Chancellorsville, Va.

The Wood of Chancellorsville

By Della Jerman Weeks


THE RIPE red berries of the wintergreen

Lure me to pause awhile

In this deep, tangled wood. I stop and lean

Down where these wild-flowers smile,

And rest me in this shade; for many a mile,

Through lane and dusty street,

I ’ve walked with weary, weary feet,

And now I tarry mid this woodland scene,

’Mong ferns and mosses sweet.

Here all around me blows

The pale primrose.

I wonder if the gentle blossom knows

The feeling at my heart,—the solemn grief,

So whelming and so deep

That it disdains relief,

And will not let me weep.

I wonder that the woodbine thrives and grows,

And is indifferent to the nation’s woes.

For while these mornings shine, these blossoms bloom,

Impious rebellion wraps the land in gloom.

Nature, thou art unkind,

Unsympathizing, blind!

Yon lichen, clinging to the o’erhanging rock,

Is happy, and each blade of grass

O’er which unconsciously I pass

Smiles in my face, and seems to mock

Me with its joy. Alas! I cannot find

One charm in bounteous Nature, while the wind

That blows upon my cheek bears on each gust

The groans of my poor country, bleeding in the dust.

The air is musical with notes

That gush from wingéd warblers’ throats,

And in the leafy trees

I hear the drowsy hum of bees.

Prone from the blinding sky

Dance rainbow-tinted sunbeams, thick with motes;

Daisies are shining, and the butterfly

Wavers from flower to flower;—yet in this wood

The ruthless foeman stood,

And every turf is drenched with human blood!