silky cocoons of the Milkweed,—and, amid the underbrush, a few lingering Asters and Golden-Rods, Ferns still green, and Maiden-hair bleached white.
In the background were hazy hills, white Birches bare and snow-like, and a Maple half-way up a sheltered hillside, one mass of canary-color, its fallen leaves making an apparent reflection on the earth at its foot,—and then a real reflection, fused into a glassy light intenser than itself, upon the smooth, dark stream below.
The beautiful disrobing suggested the persistent and unconquerable delicacy of Nature, who shrinks from nakedness and is always seeking to veil her graceful boughs,—if not with leaves, then with feathery hoar-frost, ermined snow, or transparent icy armor.
After all, the fascination of summer lies not in any details, however perfect, but in the sense of total wealth that summer gives.
Wholly to enjoy this, one must give one's self passively to it, and not expect to reproduce it in words.
We strive to picture heaven, when we are barely at the threshold of the inconceivable beauty of earth.
Perhaps the truant boy who simply bathes himself in the lake and then basks in the sunshine, dimly conscious of the exquisite loveliness around him, is wiser, because humbler, than is he who with presumptuous phrases tries to utter it. There are moments when the atmosphere is so surcharged with luxury that every pore of the body becomes an ample gate for sensation to flow in, and one has simply to sit still and be filled.
In after years the memory of books seems barren or vanishing, compared with the immortal bequest of hours like these.
Other sources of illumination seem cisterns only; these are fountains.
They may not increase the mere quantity of available thought, but they impart to it a quality which is priceless.
No man can measure what a single hour with Nature may have contributed to the moulding of his mind.
The influence is self-renewing, and if for a long time it baffles expression by reason of its fineness, so much the better in the end.
The soul is like a musical instrument: it is not enough that it be framed for the most delicate vibration, but it must vibrate long and often before the fibres grow mellow to the finest waves of sympathy.
I perceive that in the veery's carolling, the clover's scent, the glistening of the water, the waving wings of butterflies, the sunset tints, the floating clouds, there are attainable infinitely more subtile modulations of thought than I can yet reach the sensibility to discriminate, much less describe.
If in the simple process of writing one could physically impart to this page the fragrance of this spray of Azalea beside me, what a wonder would it seem!-and yet one ought to be able, by the mere use of language, to supply to every reader the total of that white, honeyed, trailing sweetness, which summer insects haunt and the Spirit of the Universe loves.
The defect is not in language, but in men. There is no conceivable