The Old Pasture

By Isaac Cobb

The green old pasture by the wood,
Where grazed the oxen, sheep and cows,
Where many a noble beech-tree stood,
And many a maple spread its boughs,
In fancy I behold once more,
And look on scenes I knew of yore.
The little knolls where mosses grew,
The ragged stumps of fallen pines,
The vernal flowers of modest hue,
On upright stems and trailing vines,
In memory again appear,
And songs of birds I seem to hear.
There was a brook where fishes dwelt,
And dragon-flies on fierce wings played;
Where blue-flags bloomed, and where we knelt
To gather lilies as we strayed;—
Where reeds and rushes erewhile throve,
Which often into caps we wove.
No wild beasts had their lurking bowers
Within the precincts of the wood,
Though childish fancy at late hours
Looked thitherward in trembling mood;
For bears and wolves too often were
The theme of stories meant to scare.
The squirrel lived in hollow trees,
And sometimes burrowed in the ground:
Oft chattering, his mate to please,
He told of nuts and acorns found;
He ruffed his fur ill very glee,
And looked defiantly at me.
The woodchuck had, beneath a knoll,
A home which he himself had made.
He never wandered from his hole,
When boys or dogs to watch him staid;
But still he found a chance to stray,
And nibbled clover every day.
The tuneful thrush, with answering note,
To cheer his lonely bride essayed;
The whip-poor-will swelled wide his throat,
When evening ruled the solemn glade,—
A terror oft to wicked youth,
When they forgot to tell the truth.
An old gray owl we sometimes heard,
Though where he lived I never learned;
He was a wondrous knowing bird,
Though what he knew we scarce discerned:
He hooted through the hours of night
A solo to the moon’s pale light.
Such was the pasture that I knew,
To which at morn I drove the cows;
They loved the grasses which there grew,
And on the leaves of shrubs to browse,
But came at sunset down the lea,
And waited at the bars for me.
But now, alas! the iron rail
Extends across that pasture green,
And, rolling through the sylvan dale,
The locomotive train is seen;
While shrill, hoarse sounds transfix with fear
The dwellers of the forest near.
The wood, the brook, how changed are they!
Where are our favorite birds and flowers?
They cheer not as in childhood’s day
Our cherished haunts in sylvan bowers;
No more the cows wait at the bars,
As when there were no railway cars.

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