Idlewild

IDLEWILD
By Addison Richards
Found in Harpers Magazine, Jan. 1858
by Don Segal, 2000

The numberless outgoings,
Of late years,
From the cities
Into the rural neighborhoods,
Of our men of wealth and culture,
Bearing with them the examples
And means of refinement
Give very gratifying promise
Of advance in the public manners and taste.

Each settlement thus made
Is a missionary station of social progress,
Which, in our ambitious
And imitative land,
Must be speedily surrounded
With a large parish of disciples,
Each going forth in turn to teach the faith,
Until the influence shall spread
Like the widening circles of pebble-broken water.

The harvest to be, by-and-by,
Reaped from this broadcast sowing
Of the seeds of the cultivated
And catholic way of life in cities
Must be healthful,
For it is the good alone who love the country
Better than the town.

With the potent spells
Of Art and Taste he summoned there
The hidden spirit of Beauty,
Until what was once unregarded and unappreciated waste
Is now a gem of nature so brilliant
As to fix the dullest gaze.

The rock-ribbed walls of our poet’s brook
Give him daily intimation of the busy world,
As they gently echo the harsh voice of the locomotive,
The passing sails fling hourly “extras”
Of human sympathy through his study window;
While on high as he seems above the great flood of life,
He only has to don the “wishing cap” of steam
And stand in the heart of the metropolis.

“You see its front porch
from the thronged thoroughfares of the Hudson;
but the grove behind it overhangs a deep-down glen,
tracked but by my own tangled paths
and the wild torrent which by turns avoid and follow – a solitude
in which the hourly hundreds of swift travelers
who pass with in echo distance
affect not the stirring of a leaf.

But it does not take precipices and groves
To make this close remoteness.

Idlewild, with its viewless other side
hidden from the thronged Hudson, –
Its dark glen of rocks and woods
And the thunder or murmur of its brook –
Is but this every wise man’s inner life
‘illustrated and set to music’? “

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