THE WOODS. 19
stories of a mythical ash-tree. It is related in their sagas that "it is the largest and best of trees ; its branches spread all over the world and reach up over the heaven," and, much more, that all had a meaning in the " brave days of old," to these our rugged ancestors.
It is by no accident that the trees and groves and woods play so large a part in human history, that they are interwoven with myths and legends and religious rites. Through poetry, ancient and modern, runs always the same echo of an unwritten forest hymn. The Hebrew prophets extol the beauties of the cedars, and the virtues of the "Balm of Gilead." "And the glory of Lebanon shall come unto thee, the fir tree and the box tree together, to beautify the place of my sanctuary." This universal sentiment of mankind finds a voice in the poets ; Bryant exclaims :
"Father, thy hand Ilath reared these venerable columns ; thou Did'st weave this verdant roof!"
"There is a spirit in these quiet woods; With what a tender and impassioned voice It fills the nice and delicate ear of thought.
Hence gifted bards
Have ever loved the calm and quiet shades ; For them there was an eloquent voice in all The sylvan pomp of woods."