Wilds horrid and dark with o'er shadowing trees,
Rocks that ivy and briers infold,
Scenes nature with dread and astonishment sees,
But I with a pleasure untold;
Though awfully silent, and shaggy, and rude,
I am charmed with the peace ye afford;
Your shades are a temple where none will intrude,
The abode of my lover and Lord.
I am sick of thy splendour, O fountain of day,
And here I am hid from its beams,
Here safely contemplate a brighter display
Of the noblest and holiest of themes.
Ye forests, that yield me my sweetest repose,
Where stillness and solitude reign,
To you I securely and boldly disclose
The dear anguish of which I complain.
Here, sweetly forgetting and wholly forgot
By the world and its turbulent throng,
The birds and the streams lend me many a note
That aids meditation and song.
Here, wandering in scenes that are sacred to night,
Love wears me and wastes me away,
And often the sun has spent much of his light
Ere yet I perceive it is day.
While a mantle of darkness envelops the sphere,
My sorrows are sadly rehearsed,
To me the dark hours are all equally dear,
And the last is as sweet as the first.
Here I and the beasts of the deserts agree,
Mankind are the wolves that I fear,
They grudge me my natural right to be free,
But nobody questions it here.
Though little is found in this dreary abode
That appetite wishes to find,
My spirit is soothed by the presence of God,
And appetite wholly resigned.
Ye desolate scenes, to your solitude led,
My life I in praises employ,
And scarce know the source of the tears that I shed,
Proceed they from sorrow or joy.
There's nothing I seem to have skill to discern,
I feel out my way in the dark,
Love reigns in my bosom, I constantly burn,
Yet hardly distinguish the spark.
I live, yet I seem to myself to be dead,
Such a riddle is not to be found,
I am nourished without knowing how I am fed,
I have nothing, and yet I abound.
Oh, love! who in darkness art pleased to abide,
Though dimly, yet surely I see
That these contrarieties only reside
In the soul that is chosen of thee.
Ah! send me not back to the race of mankind,
Perversely by folly beguiled,
For where, in the crowds I have left, shall I find
The spirit and heart of a child?
Here let me, though fixed in a desert, be free;
A little one whom they despise,
Though lost to the world, if in union with thee,
Shall be holy, and happy, and wise.
Translations from the French of Madame de la Mothe Guion