(SELECTED BY THE AUTHOR)
WITH A FOREWORD BY WILLIAM DEAN HOWELLS
The verses composing this volume have been selected by the author almost entirely from the five-volume edition of his poems published by the Bobbs-Merrill Company in 1907. A number have been included from the three or four volumes which have been published since the appearance of the Collected Poems; namely, three poems from the volume entitled "Nature Notes and Impressions," E. P. Button & Co., New York; one poem from "The Giant and the Star," Small, Maynard & Co., Boston; Section VII and part of Section VIII of "An Ode" written in commemoration of the founding of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, and published by John P. Morton & Co., Louisville, Ky.; some five or six poems from "New Poems," published in London by Mr. Grant Richards in 1909; and three or four selections from the volume of selections entitled "Kentucky Poems," compiled by Mr. Edmund Gosse and published in London by Mr. Grant Richards in 19O2. Acknowledgment and thanks for permission to reprint the various poems included in this volume are herewith made to the different publishers.
The two poems, "in Arcady" and "The Black Knight" are new and are published here for the first time.
In making the selections for the present book Mr. Cawein has endeavored to cover the entire field of his poetical labors, which extends over a quarter of a century. With the exception of his dramatic work, as witnessed by one volume only, "The Shadow Garden," a book of plays four in number, published in 1910, the selection herewith presented by us is, in our opinion, representative of the author's poetical work.
The Poetry of Madison Cawein.
Hymn to Spiritual Desire. Beautiful-Bosomed, O Night. Discovery. O Maytime Woods. The Redbird. A Niello. In May. Aubade. Apocalypse. Penetralia. Elusion. Womanhood. The Idyll of the Standing-Stone. Noera. The Old Spring. A Dreamer of Dreams. Deep in the Forest I. Spring on the Hills. II. Moss and Fern. III. The Thorn Tree. IV. The Hamadryad. Preludes. May. What Little Things.
In the Shadow of the Beeches. Unrequited. The Solitary. A Twilight Moth. The Old Farm. The Whippoorwill. Revealment. Hepaticas. The Wind of Spring. The Catbird. A Woodland Grave. Sunset Dreams. The Old Byway. "Below the Sunset's Range of Rose". Music of Summer. Midsummer. The Rain-Crow. Field and Forest Call. Old Homes. The Forest Way. Sunset and Storm. Quiet Lanes. One who loved Nature. Garden Gossip. Assumption. Senorita. Overseas. Problems. To a Windflower. Voyagers. The Spell. Uncertainty.
In the Wood. Since Then. Dusk in the Woods. Paths. The Quest. The Garden of Dreams. The Path to Faery. There are Faeries. The Spirit of the Forest Spring. In a Garden. In the Lane. The Window on the Hill. The Picture. Moly. Poppy and Mandragora. A Road Song. Phantoms. Intimations of the Beautiful. October. Friends. Comradery. Bare Boughs. Days and Days. Autumn Sorrow. The Tree-Toad. The Chipmunk. The Wild Iris. Drouth. Rain. At Sunset. The Leaf-Cricket. The Wind of Winter.
The Owlet. Evening on the Farm. The Locust. The Dead Day. The Old Water-Mill. Argonauts. "The Morn that breaks its Heart of Gold". A Voice on the Wind. Requiem. Lynchers. The Parting. Feud. Ku Klux. Eidolons. The Man Hunt. My Romance. A Maid who died Old. Ballad of Low-Lie-Down. Romance. Amadis and Oriana. The Rosicrucian. The Age of Gold. Beauty and Art. The Sea Spirit. Gargaphie. The Dead Oread. The Faun. The Paphian Venus. Oriental Romance. The Mameluke. The Slave. The Portrait.
The Black Knight. In Arcady. Prototypes. March. Dusk. The Winds. Light and Wind. Enchantment. Abandoned. After Long Grief. Mendicants. The End of Summer. November. The Death of Love. Unanswered. The Swashbuckler. Old Sir John. Uncalled.
THE POETRY OF MADISON CAWEIN
When a poet begins writing, and we begin liking his work, we own willingly enough that we have not, and cannot have, got the compass of his talent. We must wait till he has written more, and we have learned to like him more, and even then we should hesitate his definition, from all that he has done, if we did not very commonly qualify ourselves from the latest thing he has done. Between the earliest thing and the latest thing there may have been a hundred different things, and in his swan-long life of a singer there would probably be a hundred yet, and all different. But we take the latest as if it summed him up in motive and range and tendency. Many parts of his work offer themselves in confirmation of our judgment, while those which might impeach it shrink away and hide themselves, and leave us to our precipitation, our catastrophe.
It was surely nothing less than by a catastrophe that I should have been so betrayed in the volumes of Mr. Cawein's verse which reached me last before the volume of his collected poems.... I had read his poetry and loved it from the beginning, and in each successive expression of it, I had delighted in its expanding and maturing beauty. I believe I had not failed to own its compass, and when—
"He touched the tender stops of various quills,"
I had responded to every note of the changing music. I did not always respond audibly either in public or in private, for it seemed to me that so old a friend might fairly rest on the laurels he had helped bestow. But when that last volume came, I said to myself, "This applausive silence has gone on long enough. It is time to break it with open appreciation. Still," I said, "I must guard against too great appreciation; I must mix in a little depreciation, to show that I have read attentively, critically, authoritatively." So I applied myself to the cheapest and easiest means of depreciation, and asked, "Why do you always write Nature poems? Why not Human Nature poems?" or the like. But in seizing upon an objection so obvious that I ought to have known it was superficial, I had wronged a poet, who had never done me harm, but only good, in the very terms and conditions of his being a poet. I had not stayed to see that his nature poetry was instinct with human poetry, with his human poetry, with mine, with yours. I had made his reproach what ought to have been his finest praise, what is always the praise of poetry when it is not artificial and formal. I ought to have said, as I had seen, that not one of his lovely landscapes in which I could discover no human figure, but thrilled with a human presence penetrating to it from his most sensitive and subtle spirit until it was all but painfully alive with memories, with regrets, with longings, with hopes, with all that from time to time mutably constitutes us men and women, and yet keeps us children. He has the gift, in a measure that I do not think surpassed in any poet, of touching some smallest or commonest thing in nature, and making it live from the manifold associations in which we have our being, and glow thereafter with an inextinguishable beauty. His felicities do not seem sought; rather they seem to seek him, and to surprise him with the delight they impart through him. He has the inspiration of the right word, and the courage of it, so that though in the first instant you may be challenged, you may be revolted, by something that you might have thought uncouth, you are presently overcome by the happy bravery of it, and gladly recognize that no other word of those verbal saints or aristocrats, dedicated to the worship or service of beauty, would at all so well have conveyed the sense of it as this or that plebeian.
If I began indulging myself in the pleasure of quotation, or the delight of giving proofs of what I say, I should soon and far transcend the modest bounds which the editor has set my paper. But the reader may take it from me that no other poet, not even of the great Elizabethan range, can outword this poet when it comes to choosing some epithet fresh from the earth or air, and with the morning sun or light upon it, for an emotion or experience in which the race renews its youth from generation to generation. He is of the kind of Keats and Shelley and Wordsworth and Coleridge, in that truth to observance and experience of nature and the joyous expression of it, which are the dominant characteristics of his art. It is imaginable that the thinness of the social life in the Middle West threw the poet upon the communion with the fields and woods, the days and nights, the changing seasons, in which another great nature poet of ours declares they "speak in various language." But nothing could be farther from the didactic mood in which "communion with the various forms" of nature casts the Puritanic soul of Bryant, than the mood in which this German-blooded, Kentucky-born poet, who keeps throughout his song the sense of a perpetual and inalienable youth, with a spirit as pagan as that which breathes from Greek sculpture—but happily not more pagan. Most modern poets who are antique are rather over-Hellenic, in their wish not to be English or French, but there is nothing voluntary in Mr. Cawein's naturalization in the older world of myth and fable; he is too sincerely and solely a poet to be a posseur; he has his eyes everywhere except on the spectator, and his affair is to report the beauty that he sees, as if there were no one by to hear.
An interesting and charming trait of his poetry is its constant theme of youth and its limit within the range that the emotions and aspirations of youth take. He might indeed be called the poet of youth if he resented being called the poet of nature; but the poet of youth, be it understood, of vague regrets, of "tears, idle tears," of "long, long thoughts," for that is the real youth, and not the youth of the supposed hilarity, the attributive recklessness, the daring hopes. Perhaps there is some such youth as this, but it has not its home in the breast of any young poet, and he rarely utters it; at best he is of a light melancholy, a smiling wistfulness, and upon the whole, October is more to his mind than May.
In Mr. Cawein's work, therefore, what is not the expression of the world we vainly and rashly call the inanimate world, is the hardly more dramatized, and not more enchantingly imagined story of lovers, rather unhappy lovers. He finds his own in this sort far and near; in classic Greece, in heroic England, in romantic Germany, where the blue flower blows, but not less in beautiful and familiar Kentucky, where the blue grass shows itself equally the emblem of poetry, and the moldering log in the cabin wall or the woodland path is of the same poetic value as the marble of the ruined temple or the stone of the crumbling castle. His singularly creative fancy breathes a soul into every scene; his touch leaves everything that was dull to the sense before glowing in the light of joyful recognition. He classifies his poems by different names, and they are of different themes, but they are after all of that unity which I have been trying, all too shirkingly, to suggest. One, for instance, is the pathetic story which tells itself in the lyrical eclogue "One Day and Another." It is the conversation, prolonged from meeting to meeting, between two lovers whom death parts; but who recurrently find themselves and each other in the gardens and the woods, and on the waters which they tell each other of and together delight in. The effect is that which is truest to youth and love, for these transmutations of emotion form the disguise of self which makes passion tolerable; but mechanically the result is a series of nature poems. More genuinely dramatic are such pieces as "The Feud," "Ku Klux," and "The Lynchers," three out of many; but one which I value more because it is worthy of Wordsworth, or of Tennyson in a Wordsworthian mood, is "The Old Mill," where, with all the wonted charm of his landscape art, Mr. Cawein gives us a strongly local and novel piece of character painting.
I deny myself with increasing reluctance the pleasure of quoting the stanzas, the verses, the phrases, the epithets, which lure me by scores and hundreds in his poems. It must suffice me to say that I do not know any poem of his which has not some such a felicity; I do not know any poem of his which is not worth reading, at least the first time, and often the second and the third time, and so on as often as you have the chance of recurring to it. Some disappoint and others delight more than others; but there is none but in greater or less measure has the witchery native to the poet, and his place and his period.
It is only in order of his later time that I would put Mr. Cawein first among those Midwestern poets, of whom he is the youngest. Poetry in the Middle West has had its development in which it was eclipsed by the splendor, transitory if not vain, of the California school. But it is deeply rooted in the life of the region, and is as true to its origins as any faithful portraiture of the Midwestern landscape could be; you could not mistake the source of the poem or the picture. In a certain tenderness of light and coloring, the poems would recall the mellowed masterpieces of the older literatures rather than those of the New England school, where conscience dwells almost rebukingly with beauty....
W. D. HOWELLS.
From The North American Review. Copyright, 1908, by the North American Review Publishing Company.
HYMN TO SPIRITUAL DESIRE
Mother of visions, with lineaments dulcet as numbers Breathed on the eyelids of Love by music that slumbers, Secretly, sweetly, O presence of fire and snow, Thou comest mysterious, In beauty imperious, Clad on with dreams and the light of no world that we know: Deep to my innermost soul am I shaken, Helplessly shaken and tossed, And of thy tyrannous yearnings so utterly taken, My lips, unsatisfied, thirst; Mine eyes are accurst With longings for visions that far in the night are forsaken; And mine ears, in listening lost, Yearn, waiting the note of a chord that will never awaken.
Like palpable music thou comest, like moonlight; and far,— Resonant bar upon bar,— The vibrating lyre Of the spirit responds with melodious fire, As thy fluttering fingers now grasp it and ardently shake, With laughter and ache, The chords of existence, the instrument star-sprung, Whose frame is of clay, so wonderfully molded of mire.
Vested with vanquishment, come, O Desire, Desire! Breathe in this harp of my soul the audible angel of Love! Make of my heart an Israfel burning above, A lute for the music of God, that lips, which are mortal, but stammer! Smite every rapturous wire With golden delirium, rebellion and silvery clamor, Crying—"Awake! awake! Too long hast thou slumbered! too far from the regions of glamour With its mountains of magic, its fountains of faery, the spar-sprung, Hast thou wandered away, O Heart!"
Come, oh, come and partake Of necromance banquets of Beauty; and slake Thy thirst in the waters of Art, That are drawn from the streams Of love and of dreams.
"Come, oh, come! No longer shall language be dumb! Thy vision shall grasp— As one doth the glittering hasp Of a sword made splendid with gems and with gold— The wonder and richness of life, not anguish and hate of it merely. And out of the stark Eternity, awful and dark, Immensity silent and cold,— Universe-shaking as trumpets, or cymbaling metals, Imperious; yet pensive and pearly And soft as the rosy unfolding of petals, Or crumbling aroma of blossoms that wither too early,— The majestic music of God, where He plays On the organ, eternal and vast, of eons and days."
BEAUTIFUL-BOSOMED, O NIGHT
Beautiful-bosomed, O Night, in thy noon Move with majesty onward! soaring, as lightly As a singer may soar the notes of an exquisite tune, The stars and the moon Through the clerestories high of the heaven, the firmament's halls: Under whose sapphirine walls, June, hesperian June, Robed in divinity wanders. Daily and nightly The turquoise touch of her robe, that the violets star, The silvery fall of her feet, that lilies are, Fill the land with languorous light and perfume.— Is it the melody mute of burgeoning leaf and of bloom? The music of Nature, that silently shapes in the gloom Immaterial hosts Of spirits that have the flowers and leaves in their keep, Whom I hear, whom I hear? With their sighs of silver and pearl? Invisible ghosts,— Each sigh a shadowy girl,—
Who whisper in leaves and glimmer in blossoms and hover In color and fragrance and loveliness, breathed from the deep World-soul of the mother, Nature; who over and over,— Both sweetheart and lover,— Goes singing her songs from one sweet month to the other.
Lo! 'tis her songs that appear, appear, In forest and field, on hill-land and lea, As visible harmony, Materialized melody, Crystallized beauty, that out of the atmosphere Utters itself, in wonder and mystery, Peopling with glimmering essence the hyaline far and the near....
Behold how it sprouts from the grass and blossoms from flower and tree! In waves of diaphanous moonlight and mist, In fugue upon fugue of gold and of amethyst, Around me, above me it spirals; now slower, now faster, Like symphonies born of the thought of a musical master.— O music of Earth! O God, who the music inspired! Let me breathe of the life of thy breath! And so be fulfilled and attired In resurrection, triumphant o'er time and o'er death!
What is it now that I shall seek Where woods dip downward, in the hills?— A mossy nook, a ferny creek, And May among the daffodils.
Or in the valley's vistaed glow, Past rocks of terraced trumpet vines, Shall I behold her coming slow, Sweet May, among the columbines?
With redbud cheeks and bluet eyes, Big eyes, the homes of happiness, To meet me with the old surprise, Her wild-rose hair all bonnetless.
Who waits for me, where, note for note, The birds make glad the forest trees?— A dogwood blossom at her throat, My May among th' anemones.
As sweetheart breezes kiss the blooms, And dews caress the moon's pale beams, My soul shall drink her lips' perfumes, And know the magic of her dreams.
O MAYTIME WOODS!
From the idyll "Wild Thorn and Lily"
O Maytime woods! O Maytime lanes and hours! And stars, that knew how often there at night Beside the path, where woodbine odors blew Between the drowsy eyelids of the dusk,— When, like a great, white, pearly moth, the moon Hung silvering long windows of your room,— I stood among the shrubs! The dark house slept. I watched and waited for—I know not what!— Some tremor of your gown: a velvet leaf's Unfolding to caresses of the Spring: The rustle of your footsteps: or the dew Syllabling avowal on a tulip's lips Of odorous scarlet: or the whispered word Of something lovelier than new leaf or rose— The word young lips half murmur in a dream:
Serene with sleep, light visions weigh her eyes: And underneath her window blooms a quince. The night is a sultana who doth rise In slippered caution, to admit a prince, Love, who her eunuchs and her lord defies.
Are these her dreams? or is it that the breeze Pelts me with petals of the quince, and lifts The Balm-o'-Gilead buds? and seems to squeeze Aroma on aroma through sweet rifts Of Eden, dripping through the rainy trees.
Along the path the buckeye trees begin To heap their hills of blossoms.—Oh, that they Were Romeo ladders, whereby I might win Her chamber's sanctity!—where dreams must pray About her soul!—That I might enter in!—
A dream,—and see the balsam scent erase Its dim intrusion; and the starry night Conclude majestic pomp; the virgin grace Of every bud abashed before the white, Pure passion-flower of her sleeping face.
From "Wild Thorn and Lily"
Among the white haw-blossoms, where the creek Droned under drifts of dogwood and of haw, The redbird, like a crimson blossom blown Against the snow-white bosom of the Spring, The chaste confusion of her lawny breast, Sang on, prophetic of serener days, As confident as June's completer hours. And I stood listening like a hind, who hears A wood nymph breathing in a forest flute Among the beech-boles of myth-haunted ways: And when it ceased, the memory of the air Blew like a syrinx in my brain: I made A lyric of the notes that men might know:
He flies with flirt and fluting— As flies a crimson star From flaming star-beds shooting— From where the roses are.
Wings past and sings; and seven Notes, wild as fragrance is,— That turn to flame in heaven,— Float round him full of bliss.
He sings; each burning feather Thrills, throbbing at his throat; A song of firefly weather, And of a glowworm boat:
Of Elfland and a princess Who, born of a perfume, His music rocks,—where winces That rosebud's cradled bloom.
No bird sings half so airy, No bird of dusk or dawn, Thou masking King of Faery! Thou red-crowned Oberon!
It is not early spring and yet Of bloodroot blooms along the stream, And blotted banks of violet, My heart will dream.
Is it because the windflower apes The beauty that was once her brow, That the white memory of it shapes The April now?
Because the wild-rose wears the blush That once made sweet her maidenhood, Its thought makes June of barren bush And empty wood?
And then I think how young she died— Straight, barren Death stalks down the trees, The hard-eyed Hours by his side, That kill and freeze.
When orchards are in bloom again My heart will bound, my blood will beat, To hear the redbird so repeat, On boughs of rosy stain, His blithe, loud song,—like some far strain From out the past,—among the bloom,— (Where bee and wasp and hornet boom)— Fresh, redolent of rain.
When orchards are in bloom once more, Invasions of lost dreams will draw My feet, like some insistent law, Through blossoms to her door: In dreams I'll ask her, as before, To let me help her at the well; And fill her pail; and long to tell My love as once of yore.
I shall not speak until we quit The farm-gate, leading to the lane And orchard, all in bloom again, Mid which the bluebirds sit And sing; and through whose blossoms flit The catbirds crying while they fly: Then tenderly I'll speak, and try To tell her all of it.
And in my dream again she'll place Her hand in mine, as oft before,— When orchards are in bloom once more,— With all her young-girl grace: And we shall tarry till a trace Of sunset dyes the heav'ns; and then— We'll part; and, parting, I again Shall bend and kiss her face.
And homeward, singing, I shall go Along the cricket-chirring ways, While sunset, one long crimson blaze Of orchards, lingers low: And my dead youth again I'll know, And all her love, when spring is here— Whose memory holds me many a year, Whose love still haunts me so!
I would not die when Springtime lifts The white world to her maiden mouth, And heaps its cradle with gay gifts, Breeze-blown from out the singing South: Too full of life and loves that cling; Too heedless of all mortal woe, The young, unsympathetic Spring, That Death should never know.
I would not die when Summer shakes Her daisied locks below her hips, And naked as a star that takes A cloud, into the silence slips: Too rich is Summer; poor in needs; In egotism of loveliness Her pomp goes by, and never heeds One life the more or less.
But I would die when Autumn goes, The dark rain dripping from her hair, Through forests where the wild wind blows Death and the red wreck everywhere: Sweet as love's last farewells and tears To fall asleep when skies are gray, In the old autumn of my years, Like a dead leaf borne far away.
When you and I in the hills went Maying, You and I in the bright May weather, The birds, that sang on the boughs together, There in the green of the woods, kept saying All that my heart was saying low, "I love you! love you!" soft and low,— And did you know? When you and I in the hills went Maying.
There where the brook on its rocks went winking, There by its banks where the May had led us, Flowers, that bloomed in the woods and meadows, Azure and gold at our feet, kept thinking All that my soul was thinking there, "I love you! love you!" softly there— And did you care? There where the brook on its rocks went winking.
Whatever befalls through fate's compelling, Should our paths unite or our pathways sever, In the Mays to come I shall feel forever The wildflowers thinking, the wild birds telling, In words as soft as the falling dew, The love that I keep here still for you, Both deep and true, Whatever befalls through fate's compelling.
Awake! the dawn is on the hills! Behold, at her cool throat a rose, Blue-eyed and beautiful she goes, Leaving her steps in daffodils.— Awake! arise! and let me see Thine eyes, whose deeps epitomize All dawns that were or are to be, O love, all Heaven in thine eyes!— Awake! arise! come down to me!
Behold! the dawn is up: behold! How all the birds around her float, Wild rills of music, note on note, Spilling the air with mellow gold.— Arise! awake! and, drawing near, Let me but hear thee and rejoice! Thou, who keep'st captive, sweet and clear, All song, O love, within thy voice! Arise! awake! and let me hear!
See, where she comes, with limbs of day, The dawn! with wild-rose hands and feet, Within whose veins the sunbeams beat, And laughters meet of wind and ray. Arise! come down! and, heart to heart, Love, let me clasp in thee all these— The sunbeam, of which thou art part, And all the rapture of the breeze!— Arise! come down! loved that thou art!
Before I found her I had found Within my heart, as in a brook, Reflections of her: now a sound Of imaged beauty; now a look.
So when I found her, gazing in Those Bibles of her eyes, above All earth, I read no word of sin; Their holy chapters all were love.
I read them through. I read and saw The soul impatient of the sod— Her soul, that through her eyes did draw Mine—to the higher love of God.
I am a part of all you see In Nature; part of all you feel: I am the impact of the bee Upon the blossom; in the tree I am the sap,—that shall reveal The leaf, the bloom,—that flows and flutes Up from the darkness through its roots.
I am the vermeil of the rose, The perfume breathing in its veins; The gold within the mist that glows Along the west and overflows With light the heaven; the dew that rains Its freshness down and strings with spheres Of wet the webs and oaten ears.
I am the egg that folds the bird; The song that beaks and breaks its shell; The laughter and the wandering word The water says; and, dimly heard, The music of the blossom's bell When soft winds swing it; and the sound Of grass slow-creeping o'er the ground.
I am the warmth, the honey-scent That throats with spice each lily-bud That opens, white with wonderment, Beneath the moon; or, downward bent, Sleeps with a moth beneath its hood: I am the dream that haunts it too, That crystallizes into dew.
I am the seed within the pod; The worm within its closed cocoon: The wings within the circling clod, The germ, that gropes through soil and sod To beauty, radiant in the noon: I am all these, behold! and more— I am the love at the world-heart's core.
My soul goes out to her who says, "Come, follow me and cast off care!" Then tosses back her sun-bright hair, And like a flower before me sways Between the green leaves and my gaze: This creature like a girl, who smiles Into my eyes and softly lays Her hand in mine and leads me miles, Long miles of haunted forest ways.
Sometimes she seems a faint perfume, A fragrance that a flower exhaled And God gave form to; now, unveiled, A sunbeam making gold the gloom Of vines that roof some woodland room Of boughs; and now the silvery sound Of streams her presence doth assume— Music, from which, in dreaming drowned, A crystal shape she seems to bloom.
Sometimes she seems the light that lies On foam of waters where the fern Shimmers and drips; now, at some turn Of woodland, bright against the skies, She seems the rainbowed mist that flies; And now the mossy fire that breaks Beneath the feet in azure eyes Of flowers; now the wind that shakes Pale petals from the bough that sighs.
Sometimes she lures me with a song; Sometimes she guides me with a laugh; Her white hand is a magic staff, Her look a spell to lead me long: Though she be weak and I be strong, She needs but shake her happy hair, But glance her eyes, and, right or wrong, My soul must follow—anywhere She wills—far from the world's loud throng.
Sometimes I think that she must be No part of earth, but merely this— The fair, elusive thing we miss In Nature, that we dream we see Yet never see: that goldenly Beckons; that, limbed with rose and pearl, The Greek made a divinity:— A nymph, a god, a glimmering girl, That haunts the forest's mystery.
The summer takes its hue From something opulent as fair in her, And the bright heaven is brighter than it was; Brighter and lovelier, Arching its beautiful blue, Serene and soft, as her sweet gaze, o'er us.
The springtime takes its moods From something in her made of smiles and tears, And flowery earth is flowerier than before, And happier, it appears, Adding new multitudes To flowers, like thoughts, that haunt us evermore.
Summer and spring are wed In her—her nature; and the glamour of Their loveliness, their bounty, as it were, Of life and joy and love, Her being seems to shed,— The magic aura of the heart of her.
THE IDYLL OF THE STANDING STONE
The teasel and the horsemint spread The hillside as with sunset, sown With blossoms, o'er the Standing-Stone That ripples in its rocky bed: There are no treasuries that hold Gold richer than the marigold That crowns its sparkling head.
'Tis harvest time: a mower stands Among the morning wheat and whets His scythe, and for a space forgets The labor of the ripening lands; Then bends, and through the dewy grain His long scythe hisses, and again He swings it in his hands.
And she beholds him where he mows On acres whence the water sends Faint music of reflecting bends And falls that interblend with flows: She stands among the old bee-gums,— Where all the apiary hums,— A simple bramble-rose.
She hears him whistling as he leans, And, reaping, sweeps the ripe wheat by; She sighs and smiles, and knows not why, Nor what her heart's disturbance means: He whets his scythe, and, resting, sees Her rose-like 'mid the hives of bees, Beneath the flowering beans.
The peacock-purple lizard creeps Along the rail; and deep the drone Of insects makes the country lone With summer where the water sleeps: She hears him singing as he swings His scythe—who thinks of other things Than toil, and, singing, reaps.
Noera, when sad Fall Has grayed the fallow; Leaf-cramped the wood-brook's brawl In pool and shallow; When, by the woodside, tall Stands sere the mallow.
Noera, when gray gold And golden gray The crackling hollows fold By every way, Shall I thy face behold, Dear bit of May?
When webs are cribs for dew, And gossamers Streak by you, silver-blue; When silence stirs One leaf, of rusty hue, Among the burrs:
Noera, through the wood, Or through the grain, Come, with the hoiden mood Of wind and rain Fresh in thy sunny blood, Sweetheart, again.
Noera, when the corn, Reaped on the fields, The asters' stars adorn; And purple shields Of ironweeds lie torn Among the wealds:
Noera, haply then, Thou being with me, Each ruined greenwood glen Will bud and be Spring's with the spring again, The spring in thee.
Thou of the breezy tread; Feet of the breeze: Thou of the sunbeam head; Heart like a bee's: Face like a woodland-bred Anemone's.
Thou to October bring An April part! Come! make the wild birds sing, The blossoms start! Noera, with the spring Wild in thy heart!
Come with our golden year: Come as its gold: With the same laughing, clear, Loved voice of old: In thy cool hair one dear Wild marigold.
THE OLD SPRING
Under rocks whereon the rose Like a streak of morning glows; Where the azure-throated newt Drowses on the twisted root; And the brown bees, humming homeward, Stop to suck the honeydew; Fern- and leaf-hid, gleaming gloamward, Drips the wildwood spring I knew, Drips the spring my boyhood knew.
Myrrh and music everywhere Haunt its cascades—like the hair That a Naiad tosses cool, Swimming strangely beautiful, With white fragrance for her bosom, And her mouth a breath of song— Under leaf and branch and blossom Flows the woodland spring along, Sparkling, singing flows along.
Still the wet wan mornings touch Its gray rocks, perhaps; and such Slender stars as dusk may have Pierce the rose that roofs its wave; Still the thrush may call at noontide And the whippoorwill at night; Nevermore, by sun or moontide, Shall I see it gliding white, Falling, flowing, wild and white.
A DREAMER OF DREAMS
He lived beyond men, and so stood Admitted to the brotherhood Of beauty:—dreams, with which he trod Companioned like some sylvan god. And oft men wondered, when his thought Made all their knowledge seem as naught, If he, like Uther's mystic son, Had not been born for Avalon.
When wandering mid the whispering trees, His soul communed with every breeze; Heard voices calling from the glades, Bloom-words of the Leimoniaeds; Or Dryads of the ash and oak, Who syllabled his name and spoke With him of presences and powers That glimpsed in sunbeams, gloomed in showers.
By every violet-hallowed brook, Where every bramble-matted nook Rippled and laughed with water sounds, He walked like one on sainted grounds, Fearing intrusion on the spell That kept some fountain-spirit's well, Or woodland genius, sitting where Red, racy berries kissed his hair.
Once when the wind, far o'er the hill, Had fall'n and left the wildwood still For Dawn's dim feet to trail across,— Beneath the gnarled boughs, on the moss, The air around him golden-ripe With daybreak,—there, with oaten pipe, His eyes beheld the wood-god, Pan, Goat-bearded, horned; half brute, half man; Who, shaggy-haunched, a savage rhyme Blew in his reed to rudest time; And swollen-jowled, with rolling eye— Beneath the slowly silvering sky, Whose rose streaked through the forest's roof— Danced, while beneath his boisterous hoof The branch was snapped, and, interfused Between gnarled roots, the moss was bruised.
And often when he wandered through Old forests at the fall of dew— A new Endymion, who sought A beauty higher than all thought— Some night, men said, most surely he Would favored be of deity: That in the holy solitude Her sudden presence, long-pursued, Unto his gaze would stand confessed: The awful moonlight of her breast Come, high with majesty, and hold His heart's blood till his heart grew cold, Unpulsed, unsinewed, all undone, And snatch his soul to Avalon.
DEEP IN THE FOREST
I. SPRING ON THE HILLS
Ah, shall I follow, on the hills, The Spring, as wild wings follow? Where wild-plum trees make wan the hills, Crabapple trees the hollow, Haunts of the bee and swallow?
In redbud brakes and flowery Acclivities of berry; In dogwood dingles, showery With white, where wrens make merry? Or drifts of swarming cherry?
In valleys of wild strawberries, And of the clumped May-apple; Or cloudlike trees of haw-berries, With which the south winds grapple, That brook and byway dapple?
With eyes of far forgetfulness,— Like some wild wood-thing's daughter, Whose feet are beelike fretfulness,— To see her run like water Through boughs that slipped or caught her.
O Spring, to seek, yet find you not! To search, yet never win you! To glimpse, to touch, but bind you not! To lose, and still continue, All sweet evasion in you!
In pearly, peach-blush distances You gleam; the woods are braided Of myths; of dream-existences.... There, where the brook is shaded, A sudden splendor faded.
O presence, like the primrose's, Again I feel your power! With rainy scents of dim roses, Like some elusive flower, Who led me for an hour!
II. MOSS AND FERN
Where rise the brakes of bramble there, Wrapped with the trailing rose; Through cane where waters ramble, there Where deep the sword-grass grows, Who knows? Perhaps, unseen of eyes of man, Hides Pan.
Perhaps the creek, whose pebbles make A foothold for the mint, May bear,—where soft its trebles make Confession,—some vague hint, (The print, Goat-hoofed, of one who lightly ran,) Of Pan.
Where, in the hollow of the hills Ferns deepen to the knees, What sounds are those above the hills, And now among the trees?— No breeze!— The syrinx, haply, none may scan, Of Pan.
In woods where waters break upon The hush like some soft word; Where sun-shot shadows shake upon The moss, who has not heard— No bird!— The flute, as breezy as a fan, Of Pan?
Far in, where mosses lay for us Still carpets, cool and plush; Where bloom and branch and ray for us Sleep, waking with a rush— The hush But sounds the satyr hoof a span Of Pan.
O woods,—whose thrushes sing to us, Whose brooks dance sparkling heels; Whose wild aromas cling to us,— While here our wonder kneels, Who steals Upon us, brown as bark with tan, But Pan?
III. THE THORN TREE
The night is sad with silver and the day is glad with gold, And the woodland silence listens to a legend never old, Of the Lady of the Fountain, whom the faery people know, With her limbs of samite whiteness and her hair of golden glow, Whom the boyish South Wind seeks for and the girlish-stepping Rain; Whom the sleepy leaves still whisper men shall never see again: She whose Vivien charms were mistress of the magic Merlin knew, That could change the dew to glowworms and the glowworms into dew. There's a thorn tree in the forest, and the faeries know the tree, With its branches gnarled and wrinkled as a face with sorcery; But the Maytime brings it clusters of a rainy fragrant white, Like the bloom-bright brows of beauty or a hand of lifted light. And all day the silence whispers to the sun-ray of the morn How the bloom is lovely Vivien and how Merlin is the thorn: How she won the doting wizard with her naked loveliness Till he told her daemon secrets that must make his magic less.
How she charmed him and enchanted in the thorn-tree's thorns to lie Forever with his passion that should never dim or die: And with wicked laughter looking on this thing which she had done, Like a visible aroma lingered sparkling in the sun: How she stooped to kiss the pathos of an elf-lock of his beard, In a mockery of parting and mock pity of his weird: But her magic had forgotten that "who bends to give a kiss Will but bring the curse upon them of the person whose it is": So the silence tells the secret.—And at night the faeries see How the tossing bloom is Vivien, who is struggling to be free, In the thorny arms of Merlin, who forever is the tree.
IV. THE HAMADRYAD
She stood among the longest ferns The valley held; and in her hand One blossom, like the light that burns Vermilion o'er a sunset land; And round her hair a twisted band Of pink-pierced mountain-laurel blooms: And darker than dark pools, that stand
Below the star-communing glooms, Her eyes beneath her hair's perfumes.
I saw the moonbeam sandals on Her flowerlike feet, that seemed too chaste To tread true gold: and, like the dawn On splendid peaks that lord a waste Of solitude lost gods have graced, Her face: she stood there, faultless-hipped, Bound as with cestused silver,—chased With acorn-cup and crown, and tipped With oak leaves,—whence her chiton slipped.
Limbs that the gods call loveliness!— The grace and glory of all Greece Wrought in one marble shape were less Than her perfection!—'Mid the trees I saw her—and time seemed to cease For me.—And, lo! I lived my old Greek life again of classic ease, Barbarian as the myths that rolled Me back into the Age of Gold.
There is no rhyme that is half so sweet As the song of the wind in the rippling wheat; There is no metre that's half so fine As the lilt of the brook under rock and vine; And the loveliest lyric I ever heard Was the wildwood strain of a forest bird.— If the wind and the brook and the bird would teach My heart their beautiful parts of speech, And the natural art that they say these with, My soul would sing of beauty and myth In a rhyme and metre that none before Have sung in their love, or dreamed in their lore, And the world would be richer one poet the more.
A thought to lift me up to those Sweet wildflowers of the pensive woods; The lofty, lowly attitudes Of bluet and of bramble-rose: To lift me where my mind may reach The lessons which their beauties teach.
A dream, to lead my spirit on With sounds of faery shawms and flutes, And all mysterious attributes Of skies of dusk and skies of dawn: To lead me, like the wandering brooks, Past all the knowledge of the books.
A song, to make my heart a guest Of happiness whose soul is love; One with the life that knoweth of But song that turneth toil to rest: To make me cousin to the birds, Whose music needs not wisdom's words.
The golden discs of the rattlesnake-weed, That spangle the woods and dance— No gleam of gold that the twilights hold Is strong as their necromance: For, under the oaks where the woodpaths lead, The golden discs of the rattlesnake-weed Are the May's own utterance.
The azure stars of the bluet bloom, That sprinkle the woodland's trance— No blink of blue that a cloud lets through Is sweet as their countenance: For, over the knolls that the woods perfume, The azure stars of the bluet bloom Are the light of the May's own glance.
With her wondering words and her looks she comes, In a sunbeam of a gown; She needs but think and the blossoms wink, But look, and they shower down. By orchard ways, where the wild bee hums, With her wondering words and her looks she comes Like a little maid to town.
WHAT LITTLE THINGS!
From "One Day and Another"
What little things are those That hold our happiness! A smile, a glance, a rose Dropped from her hair or dress; A word, a look, a touch,— These are so much, so much.
An air we can't forget; A sunset's gold that gleams; A spray of mignonette, Will fill the soul with dreams More than all history says, Or romance of old days.
For of the human heart, Not brain, is memory; These things it makes a part Of its own entity; The joys, the pains whereof Are the very food of love.
IN THE SHADOW OF THE BEECHES
In the shadow of the beeches, Where the fragile wildflowers bloom; Where the pensive silence pleaches Green a roof of cool perfume, Have you felt an awe imperious As when, in a church, mysterious Windows paint with God the gloom?
In the shadow of the beeches, Where the rock-ledged waters flow; Where the sun's slant splendor bleaches Every wave to foaming snow, Have you felt a music solemn As when minster arch and column Echo organ worship low?
In the shadow of the beeches, Where the light and shade are blent; Where the forest bird beseeches, And the breeze is brimmed with scent,— Is it joy or melancholy That o'erwhelms us partly, wholly, To our spirit's betterment?
In the shadow of the beeches Lay me where no eye perceives; Where,—like some great arm that reaches Gently as a love that grieves,— One gnarled root may clasp me kindly, While the long years, working blindly, Slowly change my dust to leaves.
Passion? not hers! who held me with pure eyes: One hand among the deep curls of her brow, I drank the girlhood of her gaze with sighs: She never sighed, nor gave me kiss or vow.
So have I seen a clear October pool, Cold, liquid topaz, set within the sere Gold of the woodland, tremorless and cool, Reflecting all the heartbreak of the year.
Sweetheart? not she! whose voice was music-sweet; Whose face loaned language to melodious prayer. Sweetheart I called her.—When did she repeat Sweet to one hope, or heart to one despair!
So have I seen a wildflower's fragrant head Sung to and sung to by a longing bird; And at the last, albeit the bird lay dead, No blossom wilted, for it had not heard.
Upon the mossed rock by the spring She sits, forgetful of her pail, Lost in remote remembering Of that which may no more avail.
Her thin, pale hair is dimly dressed Above a brow lined deep with care, The color of a leaf long pressed, A faded leaf that once was fair.
You may not know her from the stone So still she sits who does not stir, Thinking of this one thing alone— The love that never came to her.
A TWILIGHT MOTH
Dusk is thy dawn; when Eve puts on its state Of gold and purple in the marbled west, Thou comest forth like some embodied trait, Or dim conceit, a lily bud confessed; Or of a rose the visible wish; that, white, Goes softly messengering through the night, Whom each expectant flower makes its guest.
All day the primroses have thought of thee, Their golden heads close-haremed from the heat; All day the mystic moonflowers silkenly Veiled snowy faces,—that no bee might greet, Or butterfly that, weighed with pollen, passed;— Keeping Sultana charms for thee, at last, Their lord, who comest to salute each sweet.
Cool-throated flowers that avoid the day's Too fervid kisses; every bud that drinks The tipsy dew and to the starlight plays Nocturnes of fragrance, thy wing'd shadow links In bonds of secret brotherhood and faith; O bearer of their order's shibboleth, Like some pale symbol fluttering o'er these pinks.
What dost them whisper in the balsam's ear That sets it blushing, or the hollyhock's,— A syllabled silence that no man may hear,— As dreamily upon its stem it rocks? What spell dost bear from listening plant to plant, Like some white witch, some ghostly ministrant, Some specter of some perished flower of phlox?
O voyager of that universe which lies Between the four walls of this garden fair,— Whose constellations are the fireflies That wheel their instant courses everywhere,— Mid faery firmaments wherein one sees Mimic Booetes and the Pleiades, Thou steerest like some faery ship of air.
Gnome-wrought of moonbeam-fluff and gossamer, Silent as scent, perhaps thou chariotest Mab or King Oberon; or, haply, her His queen, Titania, on some midnight quest.— Oh for the herb, the magic euphrasy, That should unmask thee to mine eyes, ah me! And all that world at which my soul hath guessed!
THE OLD FARM
Dormered and verandaed, cool, Locust-girdled, on the hill; Stained with weather-wear, and dull- Streak'd with lichens; every sill Thresholding the beautiful;
I can see it standing there, Brown above the woodland deep, Wrapped in lights of lavender, By the warm wind rocked asleep, Violet shadows everywhere.
I remember how the Spring, Liberal-lapped, bewildered its Acred orchards, murmuring, Kissed to blossom; budded bits Where the wood-thrush came to sing.
Barefoot Spring, at first who trod, Like a beggermaid, adown The wet woodland; where the god, With the bright sun for a crown And the firmament for rod,
Met her; clothed her; wedded her; Her Cophetua: when, lo! All the hill, one breathing blur, Burst in beauty; gleam and glow Blent with pearl and lavender.
Seckel, blackheart, palpitant Rained their bleaching strays; and white Snowed the damson, bent aslant; Rambow-tree and romanite Seemed beneath deep drifts to pant.
And it stood there, brown and gray, In the bee-boom and the bloom, In the shadow and the ray, In the passion and perfume, Grave as age among the gay.
Wild with laughter romped the clear Boyish voices round its walls; Rare wild-roses were the dear Girlish faces in its halls, Music-haunted all the year.
Far before it meadows full Of green pennyroyal sank; Clover-dotted as with wool Here and there; with now a bank Hot of color; and the cool
Dark-blue shadows unconfined Of the clouds rolled overhead: Clouds, from which the summer wind Blew with rain, and freshly shed Dew upon the flowerkind.
Where through mint and gypsy-lily Runs the rocky brook away, Musical among the hilly Solitudes,—its flashing spray Sunlight-dashed or forest-stilly,—
Buried in deep sassafras, Memory follows up the hill Still some cowbell's mellow brass, Where the ruined water-mill Looms, half-hid in cane and grass....
Oh, the farmhouse! is it set On the hilltop still? 'mid musk Of the meads? where, violet, Deepens all the dreaming dusk, And the locust-trees hang wet.
While the sunset, far and low, On its westward windows dashes Primrose or pomegranate glow; And above, in glimmering splashes, Lilac stars the heavens sow.
Sleeps it still among its roses,— Oldtime roses? while the choir Of the lonesome insects dozes: And the white moon, drifting higher, O'er its mossy roof reposes— Sleeps it still among its roses?
Above lone woodland ways that led To dells the stealthy twilights tread The west was hot geranium red; And still, and still, Along old lanes the locusts sow With clustered pearls the Maytimes know, Deep in the crimson afterglow, We heard the homeward cattle low, And then the far-off, far-off woe Of "whippoorwill!" of "whippoorwill!"
Beneath the idle beechen boughs We heard the far bells of the cows Come slowly jangling towards the house; And still, and still, Beyond the light that would not die Out of the scarlet-haunted sky; Beyond the evening-star's white eye Of glittering chalcedony, Drained out of dusk the plaintive cry Of "whippoorwill," of "whippoorwill."
And in the city oft, when swims The pale moon o'er the smoke that dims Its disc, I dream of wildwood limbs; And still, and still, I seem to hear, where shadows grope Mid ferns and flowers that dewdrops rope,— Lost in faint deeps of heliotrope Above the clover-sweetened slope,— Retreat, despairing, past all hope, The whippoorwill, the whippoorwill.
A sense of sadness in the golden air; A pensiveness, that has no part in care, As if the Season, by some woodland pool, Braiding the early blossoms in her hair, Seeing her loveliness reflected there, Had sighed to find herself so beautiful.
A breathlessness; a feeling as of fear; Holy and dim, as of a mystery near, As if the World, about us, whispering went With lifted finger and hand-hollowed ear, Hearkening a music, that we cannot hear, Haunting the quickening earth and firmament.
A prescience of the soul that has no name; Expectancy that is both wild and tame, As if the Earth, from out its azure ring Of heavens, looked to see, as white as flame,— As Perseus once to chained Andromeda came,— The swift, divine revealment of the Spring.
In the frail hepaticas,— That the early Springtide tossed, Sapphire-like, along the ways Of the woodlands that she crossed,— I behold, with other eyes, Footprints of a dream that flies.
One who leads me; whom I seek: In whose loveliness there is All the glamour that the Greek Knew as wind-borne Artemis.— I am mortal. Woe is me! Her sweet immortality!
Spirit, must I always fare, Following thy averted looks? Now thy white arm, now thy hair, Glimpsed among the trees and brooks? Thou who hauntest, whispering, All the slopes and vales of Spring.
Cease to lure! or grant to me All thy beauty! though it pain, Slay with splendor utterly! Flash revealment on my brain! And one moment let me see All thy immortality!
THE WIND OF SPRING
The wind that breathes of columbines And celandines that crowd the rocks; That shakes the balsam of the pines With laughter from his airy locks, Stops at my city door and knocks.
He calls me far a-forest, where The twin-leaf and the blood-root bloom; And, circled by the amber air, Life sits with beauty and perfume Weaving the new web of her loom.
He calls me where the waters run Through fronding ferns where wades the hern; And, sparkling in the equal sun, Song leans above her brimming urn, And dreams the dreams that love shall learn.
The wind has summoned, and I go: To read God's meaning in each line The wildflowers write; and, walking slow, God's purpose, of which song is sign,— The wind's great, gusty hand in mine.
The tufted gold of the sassafras, And the gold of the spicewood-bush, Bewilder the ways of the forest pass, And brighten the underbrush: The white-starred drifts of the wild-plum tree, And the haw with its pearly plumes, And the redbud, misted rosily, Dazzle the woodland glooms.
And I hear the song of the catbird wake I' the boughs o' the gnarled wild-crab, Or there where the snows of the dogwood shake, That the silvery sunbeams stab: And it seems to me that a magic lies In the crystal sweet of its notes, That a myriad blossoms open their eyes As its strain above them floats.
I see the bluebell's blue unclose, And the trillium's stainless white; The birdfoot-violet's purple and rose, And the poppy, golden-bright! And I see the eyes of the bluet wink, And the heads of the white-hearts nod; And the baby mouths of the woodland-pink And sorrel salute the sod.
And this, meseems, does the catbird say, As the blossoms crowd i' the sun:— "Up, up! and out! oh, out and away! Up, up! and out, each one! Sweethearts! sweethearts! oh, sweet, sweet, sweet! Come listen and hark to me! The Spring, the Spring, with her fragrant feet, Is passing this way!—Oh, hark to the beat Of her beelike heart!—Oh, sweet, sweet, sweet! Come! open your eyes and see! See, see, see!"
A WOODLAND GRAVE
White moons may come, white moons may go— She sleeps where early blossoms blow; Knows nothing of the leafy June, That leans above her night and noon, Crowned now with sunbeam, now with moon, Watching her roses grow.
The downy moth at twilight comes And flutters round their honeyed blooms: Long, lazy clouds, like ivory, That isle the blue lagoons of sky, Redden to molten gold and dye With flame the pine-deep glooms.
Dew, dripping from wet fern and leaf; The wind, that shakes the violet's sheaf; The slender sound of water lone, That makes a harp-string of some stone, And now a wood bird's glimmering moan, Seem whisperings there of grief.
Her garden, where the lilacs grew, Where, on old walls, old roses blew, Head-heavy with their mellow musk, Where, when the beetle's drone was husk, She lingered in the dying dusk, No more shall know that knew.
Her orchard,—where the Spring and she Stood listening to each bird and bee,— That, from its fragrant firmament, Snowed blossoms on her as she went, (A blossom with their blossoms blent) No more her face shall see.
White moons may come, white moons may go— She sleeps where early blossoms blow: Around her headstone many a seed Shall sow itself; and brier and weed Shall grow to hide it from men's heed, And none will care or know.
The moth and beetle wing about The garden ways of other days; Above the hills, a fiery shout Of gold, the day dies slowly out, Like some wild blast a huntsman blows: And o'er the hills my Fancy goes, Following the sunset's golden call Unto a vine-hung garden wall, Where she awaits me in the gloom, Between the lily and the rose, With arms and lips of warm perfume, The dream of Love my Fancy knows.
The glowworm and the firefly glow Among the ways of bygone days; A golden shaft shot from a bow Of silver, star and moon swing low Above the hills where twilight lies: And o'er the hills my Longing flies, Following the star's far-arrowed gold, Unto a gate where, as of old, She waits amid the rose and rue, With star-bright hair and night-dark eyes, The dream, to whom my heart is true, My dream of Love that never dies.
THE OLD BYWAY
Its rotting fence one scarcely sees Through sumac and wild blackberries, Thick elder and the bramble-rose, Big ox-eyed daisies where the bees Hang droning in repose.
The little lizards lie all day Gray on its rocks of lichen-gray; And, insect-Ariels of the sun, The butterflies make bright its way, Its path where chipmunks run.
A lyric there the redbird lifts, While, twittering, the swallow drifts 'Neath wandering clouds of sleepy cream,— In which the wind makes azure rifts,— O'er dells where wood-doves dream.
The brown grasshoppers rasp and bound Mid weeds and briers that hedge it round; And in its grass-grown ruts,—where stirs The harmless snake,—mole-crickets sound Their faery dulcimers.
At evening, when the sad west turns To lonely night a cheek that burns, The tree-toads in the wild-plum sing; And ghosts of long-dead flowers and ferns The winds wake, whispering.
"BELOW THE SUNSET'S RANGE OF ROSE"
Below the sunset's range of rose, Below the heaven's deepening blue, Down woodways where the balsam blows, And milkweed tufts hang, gray with dew, A Jersey heifer stops and lows— The cows come home by one, by two.
There is no star yet: but the smell Of hay and pennyroyal mix With herb aromas of the dell, Where the root-hidden cricket clicks: Among the ironweeds a bell Clangs near the rail-fenced clover-ricks.
She waits upon the slope beside The windlassed well the plum trees shade, The well curb that the goose-plums hide; Her light hand on the bucket laid, Unbonneted she waits, glad-eyed, Her gown as simple as her braid.
She sees fawn-colored backs among The sumacs now; a tossing horn Its clashing bell of copper rung: Long shadows lean upon the corn, And slow the day dies, scarlet stung, The cloud in it a rosy thorn.
Below the pleasant moon, that tips The tree tops of the hillside, fly The flitting bats; the twilight slips, In firefly spangles, twinkling by, Through which he comes: Their happy lips Meet—and one star leaps in the sky.
He takes her bucket, and they speak Of married hopes while in the grass The plum drops glowing as her cheek; The patient cows look back or pass: And in the west one golden streak Burns as if God gazed through a glass.
MUSIC OF SUMMER
Thou sit'st among the sunny silences Of terraced hills and woodland galleries, Thou utterance of all calm melodies, Thou lutanist of Earth's most affluent lute,— Where no false note intrudes To mar the silent music,—branch and root,— Charming the fields ripe, orchards and deep woods, To song similitudes Of flower and seed and fruit.
Oft have I seen thee, in some sensuous air, Bewitch the broad wheat-acres everywhere To imitated gold of thy deep hair: The peach, by thy red lips' delicious trouble, Blown into gradual dyes Of crimson; and beheld thy magic double— Dark-blue with fervid influence of thine eyes— The grapes' rotundities, Bubble by purple bubble.
Deliberate uttered into life intense, Out of thy soul's melodious eloquence Beauty evolves its just preeminence: The lily, from some pensive-smitten chord Drawing significance Of purity, a visible hush stands: starred With splendor, from thy passionate utterance, The rose writes its romance In blushing word on word.
As star by star Day harps in Evening, The inspiration of all things that sing Is in thy hands and from their touch takes wing: All brooks, all birds,—whom song can never sate,— The leaves, the wind and rain, Green frogs and insects, singing soon and late, Thy sympathies inspire, thy heart's refrain, Whose sounds invigorate With rest life's weary brain.
And as the Night, like some mysterious rune, Its beauty makes emphatic with the moon, Thou lutest us no immaterial tune: But where dim whispers haunt the cane and corn, By thy still strain made strong, Earth's awful avatar,—in whom is born Thy own deep music,—labors all night long With growth, assuring Morn Assumes with onward song.
The mellow smell of hollyhocks And marigolds and pinks and phlox Blends with the homely garden scents Of onions, silvering into rods; Of peppers, scarlet with their pods; And (rose of all the esculents) Of broad plebeian cabbages, Breathing content and corpulent ease.
The buzz of wasp and fly makes hot The spaces of the garden-plot; And from the orchard,—where the fruit Ripens and rounds, or, loosed with heat, Rolls, hornet-clung, before the feet,— One hears the veery's golden flute, That mixes with the sleepy hum Of bees that drowsily go and come.
The podded musk of gourd and vine Embower a gate of roughest pine, That leads into a wood where day Sits, leaning o'er a forest pool, Watching the lilies opening cool, And dragonflies at airy play, While, dim and near, the quietness Rustles and stirs her leafy dress.
Far-off a cowbell clangs awake The noon who slumbers in the brake: And now a pewee, plaintively, Whistles the day to sleep again: A rain-crow croaks a rune for rain, And from the ripest apple tree A great gold apple thuds, where, slow, The red cock curves his neck to crow.
Hens cluck their broods from place to place, While clinking home, with chain and trace, The cart-horse plods along the road Where afternoon sits with his dreams: Hot fragrance of hay-making streams Above him, and a high-heaped load Goes creaking by and with it, sweet, The aromatic soul of heat.
"Coo-ee! coo-ee!" the evenfall Cries, and the hills repeat the call: "Coo-ee! coo-ee!" and by the log Labor unharnesses his plow, While to the barn comes cow on cow: "Coo-ee! coo-ee!"—and, with his dog, Barefooted boyhood down the lane "Coo-ees" the cattle home again.
Can freckled August,—drowsing warm and blond Beside a wheat-shock in the white-topped mead, In her hot hair the yellow daisies wound,— O bird of rain, lend aught but sleepy heed To thee? when no plumed weed, no feathered seed Blows by her; and no ripple breaks the pond, That gleams like flint within its rim of grasses, Through which the dragonfly forever passes Like splintered diamond.
Drouth weights the trees; and from the farmhouse eaves The locust, pulse-beat of the summer day, Throbs; and the lane, that shambles under leaves Limp with the heat—a league of rutty way— Is lost in dust; and sultry scents of hay Breathe from the panting meadows heaped with sheaves— Now, now, O bird, what hint is there of rain, In thirsty meadow or on burning plain, That thy keen eye perceives?
But thou art right. Thou prophesiest true. For hardly hast thou ceased thy forecasting, When, up the western fierceness of scorched blue, Great water-carrier winds their buckets bring Brimming with freshness. How their dippers ring And flash and rumble! lavishing large dew On corn and forest land, that, streaming wet, Their hilly backs against the downpour set, Like giants, loom in view.
The butterfly, safe under leaf and flower, Has found a roof, knowing how true thou art; The bumblebee, within the last half-hour, Has ceased to hug the honey to its heart; While in the barnyard, under shed and cart, Brood-hens have housed.—But I, who scorned thy power, Barometer of birds,—like August there,— Beneath a beech, dripping from foot to hair, Like some drenched truant, cower.
FIELD AND FOREST CALL
There is a field, that leans upon two hills, Foamed o'er of flowers and twinkling with clear rills; That in its girdle of wild acres bears The anodyne of rest that cures all cares; Wherein soft wind and sun and sound are blent With fragrance—as in some old instrument Sweet chords;—calm things, that Nature's magic spell Distills from Heaven's azure crucible, And pours on Earth to make the sick mind well. There lies the path, they say— Come away! come away!
There is a forest, lying 'twixt two streams, Sung through of birds and haunted of dim dreams; That in its league-long hand of trunk and leaf Lifts a green wand that charms away all grief; Wrought of quaint silence and the stealth of things, Vague, whispering' touches, gleams and twitterings, Dews and cool shadows—that the mystic soul Of Nature permeates with suave control, And waves o'er Earth to make the sad heart whole. There lies the road, they say— Come away! come away!
Old homes among the hills! I love their gardens; Their old rock fences, that our day inherits; Their doors, round which the great trees stand like wardens; Their paths, down which the shadows march like spirits; Broad doors and paths that reach bird-haunted gardens.
I see them gray among their ancient acres, Severe of front, their gables lichen-sprinkled,— Like gentle-hearted, solitary Quakers, Grave and religious, with kind faces wrinkled,— Serene among their memory-hallowed acres.
Their gardens, banked with roses and with lilies— Those sweet aristocrats of all the flowers— Where Springtime mints her gold in daffodillies, And Autumn coins her marigolds in showers, And all the hours are toilless as the lilies.
I love their orchards where the gay woodpecker Flits, flashing o'er you, like a winged jewel; Their woods, whose floors of moss the squirrels checker With half-hulled nuts; and where, in cool renewal, The wild brooks laugh, and raps the red woodpecker.
Old homes! old hearts! Upon my soul forever Their peace and gladness lie like tears and laughter; Like love they touch me, through the years that sever, With simple faith; like friendship, draw me after The dreamy patience that is theirs forever.
THE FOREST WAY
I climbed a forest path and found A dim cave in the dripping ground, Where dwelt the spirit of cool sound, Who wrought with crystal triangles, And hollowed foam of rippled bells, A music of mysterious spells.
Where Sleep her bubble-jewels spilled Of dreams; and Silence twilight-filled Her emerald buckets, star-instilled, With liquid whispers of lost springs, And mossy tread of woodland things, And drip of dew that greenly clings.
Here by those servitors of Sound, Warders of that enchanted ground, My soul and sense were seized and bound, And, in a dungeon deep of trees Entranced, were laid at lazy ease, The charge of woodland mysteries.
The minions of Prince Drowsihead, The wood-perfumes, with sleepy tread, Tiptoed around my ferny bed: And far away I heard report Of one who dimly rode to Court, The Faery Princess, Eve-Amort.
Her herald winds sang as they passed; And there her beauty stood at last, With wild gold locks, a band held fast, Above blue eyes, as clear as spar; While from a curved and azure jar She poured the white moon and a star.
SUNSET AND STORM
Deep with divine tautology, The sunset's mighty mystery Again has traced the scroll-like west With hieroglyphs of burning gold: Forever new, forever old, Its miracle is manifest.
Time lays the scroll away. And now Above the hills a giant brow Of cloud Night lifts; and from his arm, Barbaric black, upon the world, With thunder, wind and fire, is hurled His awful argument of storm.
What part, O man, is yours in such? Whose awe and wonder are in touch With Nature,—speaking rapture to Your soul,—yet leaving in your reach No human word of thought or speech Commensurate with the thing you view.
From the lyrical eclogue "One Day and Another"
Now rests the season in forgetfulness, Careless in beauty of maturity; The ripened roses round brown temples, she Fulfills completion in a dreamy guess. Now Time grants night the more and day the less: The gray decides; and brown Dim golds and drabs in dulling green express Themselves and redden as the year goes down. Sadder the fields where, thrusting hoary high Their tasseled heads, the Lear-like corn-stocks die, And, Falstaff-like, buff-bellied pumpkins lie.— Deepening with tenderness, Sadder the blue of hills that lounge along The lonesome west; sadder the song Of the wild redbird in the leafage yellow.— Deeper and dreamier, aye! Than woods or waters, leans the languid sky Above lone orchards where the cider press Drips and the russets mellow. Nature grows liberal: from the beechen leaves The beech-nuts' burrs their little purses thrust, Plump with the copper of the nuts that rust; Above the grass the spendthrift spider weaves A web of silver for which dawn designs Thrice twenty rows of pearls: beneath the oak, That rolls old roots in many gnarly lines,— The polished acorns, from their saucers broke, Strew oval agates.—On sonorous pines The far wind organs; but the forest near Is silent; and the blue-white smoke Of burning brush, beyond that field of hay, Hangs like a pillar in the atmosphere: But now it shakes—it breaks, and all the vines And tree tops tremble; see! the wind is here! Billowing and boisterous; and the smiling day Rejoices in its clamor. Earth and sky Resound with glory of its majesty, Impetuous splendor of its rushing by.— But on those heights the woodland dark is still, Expectant of its coming.... Far away Each anxious tree upon each waiting hill Tingles anticipation, as in gray Surmise of rapture. Now the first gusts play, Like laughter low, about their rippling spines; And now the wildwood, one exultant sway, Shouts—and the light at each tumultuous pause, The light that glooms and shines, Seems hands in wild applause.
How glows that garden!—Though the white mists keep The vagabonding flowers reminded of Decay that comes to slay in open love, When the full moon hangs cold and night is deep; Unheeding still their cardinal colors leap Gay in the crescent of the blade of death,— Spaced innocents whom he prepares to reap,— Staying his scythe a breath To mark their beauty ere, with one last sweep, He lays them dead and turns away to weep.— Let me admire,— Before the sickle of the coming cold Shall mow them down,—their beauties manifold: How like to spurts of fire That scarlet salvia lifts its blooms, which heap With flame the sunlight. And, as sparkles creep Through charring vellum, up that window's screen The cypress dots with crimson all its green, The haunt of many bees. Cascading dark old porch-built lattices, The nightshade bleeds with berries; drops of blood Hanging in clusters 'mid the blue monk's-hood.
There is a garden old, Where bright-hued clumps of zinnias unfold Their formal flowers; where the marigold Lifts a pinched shred of orange sunset caught And elfed in petals; the nasturtium, Deep, pungent-leaved and acrid of perfume, Hangs up a goblin bonnet, pixy-brought From Gnomeland. There, predominant red, And arrogant, the dahlia lifts its head, Beside the balsam's rose-stained horns of honey, Lost in the murmuring, sunny Dry wildness of the weedy flower bed; Where crickets and the weed-bugs, noon and night, Shrill dirges for the flowers that soon shall die, And flowers already dead.— I seem to hear the passing Summer sigh: A voice, that seems to weep,— "Too soon, too soon the Beautiful passes by! And soon, among these bowers Will dripping Autumn mourn with all her flowers"—
If I, perchance, might peep Beneath those leaves of podded hollyhocks, That the bland wind with odorous murmurs rocks, I might behold her,—white And weary,—Summer, 'mid her flowers asleep, Her drowsy flowers asleep, The withered poppies knotted in her locks.
ONE WHO LOVED NATURE
He was not learned in any art; But Nature led him by the hand; And spoke her language to his heart So he could hear and understand: He loved her simply as a child; And in his love forgot the heat Of conflict, and sat reconciled In patience of defeat.
Before me now I see him rise— A face, that seventy years had snowed With winter, where the kind blue eyes Like hospitable fires glowed: A small gray man whose heart was large, And big with knowledge learned of need; A heart, the hard world made its targe, That never ceased to bleed.
He knew all Nature. Yea, he knew What virtue lay within each flower, What tonic in the dawn and dew, And in each root what magic power: What in the wild witch-hazel tree Reversed its time of blossoming, And clothed its branches goldenly In fall instead of spring.
He knew what made the firefly glow And pulse with crystal gold and flame; And whence the bloodroot got its snow, And how the bramble's perfume came: He understood the water's word And grasshopper's and cricket's chirr; And of the music of each bird He was interpreter.
He kept no calendar of days, But knew the seasons by the flowers; And he could tell you by the rays Of sun or stars the very hours. He probed the inner mysteries Of light, and knew the chemic change That colors flowers, and what is Their fragrance wild and strange.
If some old oak had power of speech, It could not speak more wildwood lore, Nor in experience further reach, Than he who was a tree at core. Nature was all his heritage, And seemed to fill his every need; Her features were his book, whose page He never tired to read.
He read her secrets that no man Has ever read and never will, And put to scorn the charlatan Who botanizes of her still. He kept his knowledge sweet and clean, And questioned not of why and what; And never drew a line between What's known and what is not.
He was most gentle, good, and wise; A simpler heart earth never saw: His soul looked softly from his eyes, And in his speech were love and awe.
Yet Nature in the end denied The thing he had not asked for—fame! Unknown, in poverty he died, And men forget his name.
Thin, chisel-fine a cricket chipped The crystal silence into sound; And where the branches dreamed and dripped A grasshopper its dagger stripped And on the humming darkness ground.
A bat, against the gibbous moon, Danced, implike, with its lone delight; The glowworm scrawled a golden rune Upon the dark; and, emerald-strewn, The firefly hung with lamps the night.
The flowers said their beads in prayer, Dew-syllables of sighed perfume; Or talked of two, soft-standing there, One like a gladiole, straight and fair, And one like some rich poppy-bloom.
The mignonette and feverfew Laid their pale brows together:—"See!" One whispered: "Did their step thrill through Your roots?"—"Like rain."—"I touched the two And a new bud was born in me."
One rose said to another:—"Whose Is this dim music? song, that parts My crimson petals like the dews?" "My blossom trembles with sweet news— It is the love of two young hearts."
A mile of moonlight and the whispering wood: A mile of shadow and the odorous lane: One large, white star above the solitude, Like one sweet wish: and, laughter after pain, Wild-roses wistful in a web of rain.
No star, no rose, to lesson him and lead; No woodsman compass of the skies and rocks,— Tattooed of stars and lichens,—doth love need To guide him where, among the hollyhocks, A blur of moonlight, gleam his sweetheart's locks.
We name it beauty—that permitted part, The love-elected apotheosis Of Nature, which the god within the heart, Just touching, makes immortal, but by this— A star, a rose, the memory of a kiss.
An agate-black, your roguish eyes Claim no proud lineage of the skies, No starry blue; but of good earth The reckless witchery and mirth.
Looped in your raven hair's repose, A hot aroma, one red rose Dies; envious of that loveliness, By being near which its is less.
Twin sea shells, hung with pearls, your ears, Whose slender rosiness appears Part of the pearls; whose pallid fire Binds the attention these inspire.
One slim hand crumples up the lace About your bosom's swelling grace; A ruby at your samite throat Lends the required color note.
The moon bears through the violet night A pearly urn of chaliced light; And from your dark-railed balcony You stoop and wave your fan at me.
O'er orange orchards and the rose Vague, odorous lips the south wind blows, Peopling the night with whispers of Romance and palely passionate love.
The heaven of your balcony Smiles down two stars, that say to me More peril than Angelica Wrought with her beauty in Cathay.
Oh, stoop to me! and, speaking, reach My soul like song that learned sweet speech From some dim instrument—who knows?— Or flower, a dulcimer or rose.
Non numero horas nisi serenas
When Fall drowns morns in mist, it seems In soul I am a part of it; A portion of its humid beams, A form of fog, I seem to flit From dreams to dreams....
An old chateau sleeps 'mid the hills Of France: an avenue of sorbs Conceals it: drifts of daffodils Bloom by a 'scutcheoned gate with barbs Like iron bills.
I pass the gate unquestioned; yet, I feel, announced. Broad holm-oaks make Dark pools of restless violet. Between high bramble banks a lake,— As in a net
The tangled scales twist silver,—shines.... Gray, mossy turrets swell above A sea of leaves. And where the pines Shade ivied walls, there lies my love, My heart divines.
I know her window, slimly seen From distant lanes with hawthorn hedged: Her garden, with the nectarine Espaliered, and the peach tree, wedged 'Twixt walls of green.
Cool-babbling a fountain falls From gryphons' mouths in porphyry; Carp haunt its waters; and white balls Of lilies dip it when the bee Creeps in and drawls.
And butterflies—each with a face Of faery on its wings—that seem Beheaded pansies, softly chase Each other down the gloom and gleam Trees interspace.
And roses! roses, soft as vair, Round sylvan statues and the old Stone dial—Pompadours, that wear Their royalty of purple and gold With wanton air....
Her scarf, her lute, whose ribbons breathe The perfume of her touch; her gloves, Modeling the daintiness they sheathe; Her fan, a Watteau, gay with loves, Lie there beneath
A bank of eglantine, that heaps A rose-strewn shadow.—Naive-eyed, With lips as suave as they, she sleeps; The romance by her, open wide, O'er which she weeps.
Man's are the learnings of his books— What is all knowledge that he knows Beside the wit of winding brooks, The wisdom of the summer rose!
How soil distills the scent in flowers Baffles his science: heaven-dyed, How, from the palette of His hours, God gives them colors, hath defied.
What dream of heaven begets the light? Or, ere the stars beat burning tunes, Stains all the hollow edge of night With glory as of molten moons?
Who is it answers what is birth Or death, that nothing may retard? Or what is love, that seems of Earth, Yet wears God's own divine regard?
TO A WINDFLOWER
Teach me the secret of thy loveliness, That, being made wise, I may aspire to be As beautiful in thought, and so express Immortal truths to Earth's mortality; Though to my soul ability be less Than 'tis to thee, O sweet anemone.
Teach me the secret of thy innocence, That in simplicity I may grow wise; Asking of Art no other recompense Than the approval of her own just eyes; So may I rise to some fair eminence, Though less than thine, O cousin of the skies.
Teach me these things; through whose high knowledge, I,— When Death hath poured oblivion through my veins, And brought me home, as all are brought, to lie In that vast house, common to serfs and thanes,— I shall not die, I shall not utterly die, For beauty born of beauty—that remains.
Where are they, that song and tale Tell of? lands our childhood knew? Sea-locked Faerylands that trail Morning summits, dim with dew, Crimson o'er a crimson sail.
Where in dreams we entered on Wonders eyes have never seen: Whither often we have gone, Sailing a dream-brigantine On from voyaging dawn to dawn.
Leons seeking lands of song; Fabled fountains pouring spray; Where our anchors dropped among Corals of some tropic bay, With its swarthy native throng.
Shoulder ax and arquebus!— We may find it!—past yon range Of sierras, vaporous, Rich with gold and wild and strange That lost region dear to us.
Yet, behold, although our zeal Darien summits may subdue, Our Balboa eyes reveal But a vaster sea come to— New endeavor for our keel.
Yet! who sails with face set hard Westward,—while behind him lies Unfaith,—where his dreams keep guard Round it, in the sunset skies, He may reach it—afterward.
"We have the receipt of fern seed: we walk invisible." —HENRY IV
And we have met but twice or thrice!— Three times enough to make me love!— I praised your hair once; then your glove; Your eyes; your gown;—you were like ice; And yet this might suffice, my love, And yet this might suffice.
St. John hath told me what to do: To search and find the ferns that grow The fern seed that the faeries know; Then sprinkle fern seed in my shoe, And haunt the steps of you, my dear, And haunt the steps of you.
You'll see the poppy pods dip here; The blow-ball of the thistle slip, And no wind breathing—but my lip Next to your anxious cheek and ear, To tell you I am near, my love, To tell you I am near.
On wood-ways I shall tread your gown— You'll know it is no brier!—then I'll whisper words of love again, And smile to see your quick face frown: And then I'll kiss it down, my dear, And then I'll kiss it down.
And when at home you read or knit,— Who'll know it was my hands that blotted The page?—or all your needles knotted? When in your rage you cry a bit: And loud I laugh at it, my love, And loud I laugh at it.
The secrets that you say in prayer Right so I'll hear: and, when you sing, The name you speak; and whispering I'll bend and kiss your mouth and hair, And tell you I am there, my dear, And tell you I am there.
Would it were true what people say!— Would I could find that elfin seed! Then should I win your love, indeed, By being near you night and day— There is no other way, my love, There is no other way.
Meantime the truth in this is said: It is my soul that follows you; It needs no fern seed in the shoe,— While in the heart love pulses red, To win you and to wed, my dear, To win you and to wed.
"'He cometh not,' she said."—MARIANA
It will not be to-day and yet I think and dream it will; and let The slow uncertainty devise So many sweet excuses, met With the old doubt in hope's disguise.
The panes were sweated with the dawn; Yet through their dimness, shriveled drawn, The aigret of one princess-feather, One monk's-hood tuft with oilets wan, I glimpsed, dead in the slaying weather.
This morning, when my window's chintz I drew, how gray the day was!—Since I saw him, yea, all days are gray!— I gazed out on my dripping quince, Defruited, gnarled; then turned away
To weep, but did not weep: but felt A colder anguish than did melt About the tearful-visaged year!— Then flung the lattice wide, and smelt The autumn sorrow: Rotting near
The rain-drenched sunflowers bent and bleached, Up which the frost-nipped gourd-vines reached And morning-glories, seeded o'er With ashen aiglets; whence beseeched One last bloom, frozen to the core.
The podded hollyhocks,—that Fall Had stripped of finery,—by the wall Rustled their tatters; dripped and dripped, The fog thick on them: near them, all The tarnished, haglike zinnias tipped.
I felt the death and loved it: yea, To have it nearer, sought the gray, Chill, fading garth. Yet could not weep, But wandered in an aimless way, And sighed with weariness for sleep.
Mine were the fog, the frosty stalks; The weak lights on the leafy walks; The shadows shivering with the cold; The breaking heart; the lonely talks; The last, dim, ruined marigold.
But when to-night the moon swings low— A great marsh-marigold of glow— And all my garden with the sea Moans, then, through moon and mist, I know My love will come to comfort me.
IN THE WOOD
The waterfall, deep in the wood, Talked drowsily with solitude, A soft, insistent sound of foam, That filled with sleep the forest's dome, Where, like some dream of dusk, she stood Accentuating solitude.
The crickets' tinkling chips of sound Strewed dim the twilight-twinkling ground; A whippoorwill began to cry, And glimmering through the sober sky A bat went on its drunken round, Its shadow following on the ground.
Then from a bush, an elder-copse, That spiced the dark with musky tops, What seemed, at first, a shadow came And took her hand and spoke her name, And kissed her where, in starry drops, The dew orbed on the elder-tops.
The glaucous glow of fireflies Flickered the dusk; and foxlike eyes Peered from the shadows; and the hush Murmured a word of wind and rush Of fluttering waters, fragrant sighs, And dreams unseen of mortal eyes.
The beetle flung its burr of sound Against the hush and clung there, wound In night's deep mane: then, in a tree, A grig began deliberately To file the stillness: all around A wire of shrillness seemed unwound.
I looked for those two lovers there; His ardent eyes, her passionate hair. The moon looked down, slow-climbing wan Heaven's slope of azure: they were gone: But where they'd passed I heard the air Sigh, faint with sweetness of her hair.
I found myself among the trees What time the reapers ceased to reap; And in the sunflower-blooms the bees Huddled brown heads and went to sleep, Rocked by the balsam-breathing breeze.
I saw the red fox leave his lair, A shaggy shadow, on the knoll; And tunneling his thoroughfare Beneath the soil, I watched the mole— Stealth's own self could not take more care.
I heard the death-moth tick and stir, Slow-honeycombing through the bark; I heard the cricket's drowsy chirr, And one lone beetle burr the dark— The sleeping woodland seemed to purr.
And then the moon rose: and one white Low bough of blossoms—grown almost Where, ere you died, 'twas our delight To meet,—dear heart!—I thought your ghost.... The wood is haunted since that night.
DUSK IN THE WOODS
Three miles of trees it is: and I Came through the woods that waited, dumb, For the cool summer dusk to come; And lingered there to watch the sky Up which the gradual splendor clomb.
A tree-toad quavered in a tree; And then a sudden whippoorwill Called overhead, so wildly shrill The sleeping wood, it seemed to me, Cried out and then again was still.
Then through dark boughs its stealthy flight An owl took; and, at drowsy strife, The cricket tuned its faery fife; And like a ghost-flower, silent white, The wood-moth glimmered into life.
And in the dead wood everywhere The insects ticked, or bored below The rotted bark; and, glow on glow, The lambent fireflies here and there Lit up their jack-o'-lantern show.
I heard a vesper-sparrow sing, Withdrawn, it seemed, into the far Slow sunset's tranquil cinnabar; The crimson, softly smoldering Behind the trees, with its one star.
A dog barked: and down ways that gleamed, Through dew and clover, faint the noise Of cowbells moved. And then a voice, That sang a-milking, so it seemed, Made glad my heart as some glad boy's.
And then the lane: and, full in view, A farmhouse with its rose-grown gate, And honeysuckle paths, await For night, the moon, and love and you— These are the things that made me late.
What words of mine can tell the spell Of garden ways I know so well?— The path that takes me in the spring Past quince-trees where the bluebirds sing, And peonies are blossoming, Unto a porch, wistaria-hung, Around whose steps May-lilies blow, A fair girl reaches down among, Her arm more white than their sweet snow.
What words of mine can tell the spell Of garden ways I know so well?— Another path that leads me, when The summer time is here again, Past hollyhocks that shame the west When the red sun has sunk to rest; To roses bowering a nest, A lattice, 'neath which mignonette And deep geraniums surge and sough, Where, in the twilight, starless yet, A fair girl's eyes are stars enough.
What words of mine can tell the spell Of garden ways I know so well?— A path that takes me, when the days Of autumn wrap the hills in haze, Beneath the pippin-pelting tree, 'Mid flitting butterfly and bee; Unto a door where, fiery, The creeper climbs; and, garnet-hued, The cock's-comb and the dahlia flare, And in the door, where shades intrude, Gleams bright a fair girl's sunbeam hair.
What words of mine can tell the spell Of garden ways I know so well?— A path that brings me through the frost Of winter, when the moon is tossed In clouds; beneath great cedars, weak With shaggy snow; past shrubs blown bleak With shivering leaves; to eaves that leak The tattered ice, whereunder is A fire-flickering window-space; And in the light, with lips to kiss, A fair girl's welcome-smiling face.