Not vile, body, nor foe, flesh,
Your joys deluding, triumphs trash,
Fit to be foiled your every wish.

Never so will I malign
Helper and friend on whom I lean,
Vessel of life and breath not vain.

You now, my joyful carrier,
Bear me about, on earth, in air,
Or white wave greening in to shore.

How you exult to leap and run!
How gladly greet the wind and sun
And stretch at ease when work is done.

And are not all the senses yours
Which in the universe disclose
The frame of That which moves and is?

Eye, that speaks with liquid lens
To brain and soul of grasses bronze,
And moon’s miraculous light, and sun’s;

Ear, whose vibrant membrane tells
Of birds and words and waterfalls
And Music’s heavenly syllables;

Smell, stabbing memory fierce and first;
Touch, cold to stone but warm to breast,
Love’s surest proof he is no ghost.

Good body, happy home here,
God-given instrument I wear,
I’ll cherish, use you without fear.

But limbs grow heavy, and breath lost,
And eyes weary, and words forced,
And I will chafe my house at last.

Then rest, body, and lie still
When I have otherwhere to dwell,
And other work, as God may will.

Richard’s choice

Poems of Nature