Maurice Thompson

A Taunt

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In the oldest wood I know a brooklet,
That bubbles over stones and roots,
And ripples out of hollow places,
Like music out of flutes.


There creeps the pungent breath of cedars,
Rich coolness wraps the air about,
Whilst through clear pools electric flashes
Betray the watchful trout.


I know where wild things lurk and linger,
In groves as gray and grand as Time;
I know where God has written poems
Too strong for words or rhyme.


Come, let us go, each pulse is precious,
Come, ere the day has lost its dawn;
And you shall quaff life's finest essence
From primal flagons drawn!


Just for a day slip off the tether
Of hothouse wants, and dare to be
A child of Nature, strong and simple,
Out in the woods with me.


Out in the woods, on freedom's bosom,
We shall be worthy sons of men,
Bred of remotest sires who bearded
The satyr in his den.


Come, just a sip of the wild man's nectar
Shall show you life from a point of view
As old as the oldest stones of the mountains,
And yet as fresh as dew!


Supple joints and bulging muscles,
Sinews taut as the chords of a harp,
Veins full-flushed, eyes clear as water,
And all the senses sharp.


Who was Shakespeare? Where is Homer?
Can Milton leap, or dance, or run?
Should you care to cast a fly with Walton?
Do you envy Napoleon?


What of this lore of buried thinkers?
What of these classic depths and heights?
Better one strong, bright, living creature
Than a myriad trilobites!


Ah, I see you scoff at my meaning,
You flaccid, indolent bookworm, you!
What would you give for my good digestion
And my nerve-cords sound and true?

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Maurice Thompson