Friday, October 07, 2005


"John Burroughs in his study, from a photograph by Clifton Johnson," from the Pictures Archive at

A poem written in his youth by the apparently-forgotten American naturalist (friend of Theodore Roosevelt, Thomas Edison, and John Muir), John Burroughs (1837-1921):


Serene, I fold my hands and wait,
Nor care for wind, or tide, or sea;
I rave no more ’gainst time or fate,
For, lo! my own shall come to me.

I stay my haste, I make delays,
For what avails this eager pace?
I stand amid the eternal ways,
And what is mine shall know my face.

Asleep, awake, by night or day,
The friends I seek are seeking me;
No wind can drive my bark astray,
Nor change the tide of destiny.

What matter if I stand alone?
I wait with joy the coming years;
My heart shall reap where it has sown,
And garner up its fruit of tears.

The waters know their own and draw
The brook that springs in yonder height;
So flows the good with equal law
Unto the soul of pure delight.

The stars come nightly to the sky;
The tidal wave unto the sea;
Nor time, nor space, nor deep, nor high,
Can keep my own away from me.

I can't decide whether to believe in destiny or not. Some days yes, some days no. Reading this poem, it just seems like such a nice idea :)

Besides, look at that man's beard! How could he be anything but wise?

(Some of Burroughs' writing is available online at and Project Gutenberg.)