THE SYLVAN CABIN A CENTENARY ODE ON THE BIRTH OF LINCOLN I O, fairest Dame of sylvan glades,We come to pay thee homage due,Embrace thee softly and to kissThy lovely, long-forsaken cheeks;To smooth thy flowing silver locksAnd bind about thy snowy neckA necklace golden studded fullWith rarest gems and shining pearls.Our eyes, though sometimes dimmed with tears,In purer lustre sparkle forthWhene'er they fall agaze on thee!Our ears attuned to thy sweet layCatch every flowing, cadent noteAnd bear it ever safe withinOur rapturous hearts, which gladly leapWhene'er thy name is called!Deep in our souls the quenchless fireOf love full brightly burns uponThe sacred altar, set apartFor sprite commune and sacrifice;Whose high-priest tends with loving care,And unto thee sweet incense burns.Our tongues most gladly sing thy praise,And from it ne'er shall cease—till allThe land be free! II A century lonely hast thou stoodHere all forsaken and forgot!All men failed thee to visit saveSome idle lover of sylvan hauntsWho trod, perchance, this hallowed spot,And cast a pensive eye uponThis lovely glade, thy sole abode(Full lost in these continuous woods),And brooding o'er thy lowly lot,Oft thus did muse: "This cabin loneHere stands to tell the tale of him,Back-woodsman brave, who having scaledThe mystic mountains ne'er returnedTo them, though loved yet left behind;But here he chose his last abode,These gloomy woods whose blackness standsUp hard against horizon's slope;Grim, spectral, dreaded, and untrodSave monsters great of savage mien,That prowled, or crouched upon their prey;Sent forth a vicious roar that fairly shookOld Sylvia far and near, from valeThrough crag to mountain peak!Upon this spot the redskin oftHas danced his 'War dance' and his 'Feast,'His face a reddish hue aglow—Long locks with eaglets' plumes bedecked;His bow and never-failing dart,And scalper dangling at his side.More brightly gleamed his wary eye,As braves the war-whoop loudly yelled—A sight more like the fiery fiendsFrom Pluto's ghastly shore returnedThan human blood and bone!They all have gone and left no taleBut woe which hurled them ever henceTo that shore whence no bark returns.Old Cabin, thou, a land-mark art,Of human progress' steady march!" III Of theeThus has time passed with naught more said;For man in his pedantic artSoars far in feeble flights of songFrom Nature's heart, and thus he failsWith Nature's God to hold commune!The bard has slept, dreamed many a dream,But failed to dream one dream of thee.High hangs his lyre on willow reed,And sitting 'neath yon shady nook,He fails to catch one note of thyImmortal song that fills the air.Awake, O bard, from sleep so deep!Attune thy lyre; let Nature breatheIn her immortal breath of song;Then wilt thou sing a song most sweet,The song by Nature's vesper choir,Through all the countless ages sung,—And still is singing day by day.Then all the world will join thy sweetRefrain in praise and ardent loveOf this fair forest Dame! IV The nations all their day shall have;Yet each in turn shall rise and fall,As falls the dark brown autumn leaf;Or as those dread sky-kissing tides,Which toss frail barks high uponSome ghastly, frowning storm-beat shore,—Though slowly, yet quite surely ebb away.—Aye! Egypt fair once spread the Nile,And green-bay-tree-like proudly flourished;Her snowy sails sea-ports bedecked,And deeply ploughed the rolling main,Or clave the placid lakes, as doesThe gentle swan, when some soft breezeThe bulrush stirs, flings its perfumeUpon the rippling silver waves...!