The Unconquered Air, and Other Poems (1912)/A Cathedral
all saints' day in the great north woods
It rises by a frozen mere,
With nave and transepts of the pines
That towering mid the snows appear
Majestic and sublime;
While, with a myriad fair designs
Of feathery-tufted tracery,
Their tops adorn with silver rime
The azure vault's immensity.
Rock-piled, the altar to the East
Lies argent-spread; on either hand—
Meek servers at the lonely feast—
Surpliced and tall the birches stand,
Like ghostly acolytes;
And through ice-mailéd branches pass,
Prismatic from celestial heights,
The tints of mediæval glass.
Awed, as in no cathedral raised
By human thought, alone, and still,
I muse on one who dying praised
The God of Being, here:
On him who welcomed with a will
The gift of life, the boon of death,—
The while he heard, deep-toned and near,
The solemn forest's organ-breath.
- Robert Louis Stevenson at Saranac.