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Short poem

Sidney Lanier (1842-1881)

From the Flats

              1   What heartache -- ne'er a hill!
              2Inexorable, vapid, vague and chill
              3The drear sand-levels drain my spirit low.
              4With one poor word they tell me all they know;
              5Whereat their stupid tongues, to tease my pain,
              6Do drawl it o'er again and o'er again.
              7They hurt my heart with griefs I cannot name:
              8   Always the same, the same.

              9   Nature hath no surprise,
            10No ambuscade of beauty 'gainst mine eyes
            11From brake or lurking dell or deep defile;
            12No humors, frolic forms -- this mile, that mile;
            13No rich reserves or happy-valley hopes
            14Beyond the bend of roads, the distant slopes.
            15Her fancy fails, her wild is all run tame:
            16   Ever the same, the same.

            17   Oh might I through these tears
            18But glimpse some hill my Georgia high uprears,
            19Where white the quartz and pink the pebble shine,
            20The hickory heavenward strives, the muscadine
            21Swings o'er the slope, the oak's far-falling shade
            22Darkens the dogwood in the bottom glade,
            23And down the hollow from a ferny nook
            24   Lull sings a little brook!


10] ambuscade: ambush.

11] brake: bushes. dell: deep valley. defile: narrow pass.

20] muscadine: vine with grapes.

Online text copyright © 2004, Ian Lancashire for the Department of English, University of Toronto.
Published by the Web Development Group, Information Technology Services, University of Toronto Libraries.

Original text: Poems of Sidney Lanier, ed. Mary Day Lanier (New York: C. Scribner's Sons, 1885): 26. First published Lippincott's Magazine 1877.
First publication date: 1877
RPO poem editor: Ian Lancashire
RP edition: 2004
Recent editing: 1:2004/7/30

Other poems by Sidney Lanier