On Rereading a Passage From John Muir
by Yvor Winters
Seeking in vain to find the heroic brow,
The subject fitting for a native ode,
I turn from thinking, for there haunts me now
A wrinkled figure on a dusty road:
Climbing from road to path, from path to rock,
From rock to live oak, thence to mountain bay,
Through unmoved twilight, where the rifle's shock
Was half absorbed by leaves and drawn away,
Through mountain lilac, where the brown deer lay.
This was my childhood's revery: to be
Not one who seeks in nature his release
But one forever by the dripping tree,
Paradisaic in his pristine peace.
I might have been this man: a knowing eye
Moving on leaf and bark, a quiet gauge
Of growing timber and of climbing fly,
A quiet hand to fix them on the page—
A gentle figure from a simpler age.