The deep seclusion of this forest path, -
O'er which the green boughs weave a canopy;
Along which bluet and anemone
Spread dim a carpet; where the Twilight hath
Her cool abode; and, sweet as aftermath,
Wood-fragrance roams, - has so enchanted me,
That yonder blossoming bramble seems to be
A Sylvan resting, rosy from her bath:
Has so enspelled me with tradition's dreams,
That every foam-white stream that, twinkling, flows,
And every bird that flutters wings of tan,
Or warbles hidden, to my fancy seems
A Naiad dancing to a Faun who blows
Wild woodland music on the pipes of Pan.
In The Forest
One well might deem, among these miles of woods,
Such were the Forests of the Holy Grail,
Broceliand and Dean; where, clothed in mail,
The Knights of Arthur rode, and all the broods
Of legend laired. And, where no sound intrudes
Upon the ear, except the glimmering wail
Of some far bird; or, in some flowery swale,
A brook that murmurs to the solitudes,
Might think he hears the laugh of Vivien
Blent with the moan of Merlin, muttering bound
By his own magic to one stony spot;
And in the cloud, that looms above the glen,
In which the sun burns like the Table Round,
Might dream he sees the towers of Camelot.
Wild clouds roll up, slag-dark and slaty gray,
And in the oaks the sere wind sobs and sighs,
Weird as a word a man before he dies
Mutters beneath his breath yet fears to say:
The rain drives down; and by each forest way
Each dead leaf drips, and murmurings arise
As of fantastic footsteps, one who flies,
Whispering, the dim eidolon of the day.
Now is the wood a place where phantoms house:
Around each tree wan ghosts of flowers crowd,
And spectres of sweet weeds that once were fair,
Rustling; and through the bleakness of bare boughs
A voice is heard, now low, now stormy loud,
As if the ghosts of all the leaves were there.
The Broken Drouth
It seemed the listening forest held its breath
Before some vague and unapparent form
Of fear, approaching with the wings of death,
On the impending storm.
Above the hills, big, bellying clouds loomed, black
And ominous, yet silent as the blue
That pools calm heights of heaven, deepening back
'Twixt clouds of snowdrift hue.
Then instantly, as when a multitude
Shout riot and war through some tumultuous town,
Innumerable voices swept the wood
As wild the wind rushed down.
And fierce and few, as when a strong man weeps,
Great rain-drops dashed the dust; and, overhead,
Ponderous and vast down the prodigious deeps,
Went slow the thunder's tread.
And swift and furious, as when giants fence,
The lightning foils of tempest went insane;
Then far and near sonorous Earth grew dense
With long sweet sweep of rain.
The Dream In The Wood
The beauty of the day put joy,
Unbounded, in the woodland's breast,
Through which the wind,like some wild boy,
Ran on and took no rest.
The little stream that made its home,
Under the spicewood bough and beech,
Hummed to its heart a song of foam,
Or with the moss held speech.
And he, whose heart was weighed with tears,
And who had come to seek a dream,
For a dim while forgot his fears,
Hearkening the wind and stream.
The wind for him assumed a form,
A child's, with wildflowers in its hair;
It seemed to take him by the arm
To lead him far from care.
The streamlet raised a hand of spray
By every rock, and waved him on,
Whispering, 'Come, take this wildwood way,
And find your dream long gone.'
And he, who heard and followed these,
Came on a secret place apart,
And there, behold! the dream of peace
He found in his own heart.
In The Forest Of Love
What sighed the Forest to the nest?
'So young, so old,
Help me to mold
This life I hold.'
What said the bird,
That harked and heard?
Love, love is best.
Take heed, my Life, and quit thy quest.
The meaning of Love is rest.'
So spake the bird.
What cried the Nightwind to the trees?
'Thou dream of Earth,
Make me of worth
In death and birth!'
What said the wood
Stark-still that stood?
Give me increase.
Take heed, my Heart! thy sighings cease.
The meaning of Love is peace.'
So spake the Wood.
What sobbed the Earth in deep and height?
'O Song of Songs,
Unloose my thongs,
And right my wrongs!'
What said the Clod,
That dreamed of God?
Prisoner of Night,
Spirit, lift high thy taper-light!
The meaning of Love is might.'
So spake the Clod.
A Forest Flute
I Heard a reed among the hills,
A woodland reed of music where,
Like madcap children, ran the rills,
Boisterous, with wildly flowing hair.
I knew it for a pipe the Spring
Tuned to the rapture in her heart,
That in the egg should shape the wing,
And in the seed the wildflower start.
And I I followed where it blew,
And found a valley, dim and green,
A wild spot, like a dropp of dew,
Hung glimmeringly two hills between.
I heard the flute, a bird-like note,
That made the place a magic well,
On which enchantment seemed to float,
A spirit in a rainbow shell.
I knew what danced there with its flute,
Unseen, a part of soul and mind:
I saw the imprint of its foot,
In many a flower of orchis-kind.
I knew it of an ancient race,
Some myth the Greeks had known of old.
Could I have spoken it face to face
Of what lost dreams I might have told!
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!
When wildflower blue and wildflower white
The wildflowers lay their heads together,
And the moon-moth glimmers along the night,
And the wandering firefly flares its light,
And the full moon rises broad and bright,
Then, then it is elfin weather.
And fern and flower on top of the hill
Are a fairy wood where the fairies camp;
And there, to the pipe of the cricket shrill,
And the owl's bassoon or the whippoorwill,
They whirl their wildest and trip their fill
By the light of the glowworm's lamp.
And the green tree-toad and the katydid
Are the henchmen set to guard their dance;
At whose cry they creep 'neath the dewy lid
Of a violet's eye, or close lie hid
In a bluebell's ear, if a mortal 'mid
The moonlit woods should chance.
And the forest-fly with its gossamer wings,
And filmy body of rainbow dye,
Is the ouphen steed each elfin brings,
Whereon by the light of the stars he swings,
When the dance is done and the barn-cock sings,
And the dim dawn streaks the sky.
The Wood Water
An evil, stealthy water, dark as hate,
Sunk from the light of day,
'Thwart which is hung a ruined water-gate,
Creeps on its stagnant way.
Moss and the spawny duckweed, dim as air,
And green as copperas,
Choke its dull current; and, like hideous hair,
Tangles of twisted grass.
Above it sinister trees, as crouched and gaunt
As huddled Terror, lean;
Guarding some secret in that nightmare haunt,
Some horror they have seen.
Something the sunset points at from afar,
Spearing the sullen wood
And hag-gray water with a single bar
Of flame as red as blood.
Something the stars, conspiring with the moon,
Shall look on, and remain
Frozen with fear; staring as in a swoon,
Striving to flee in vain.
Something the wisp that, wandering in the night,
Above the ghastly stream,
Haply shall find; and, filled with frantic fright,
Light with its ghostly gleam.
Something that lies there, under weed and ooze,
With wide and awful eyes
And matted hair, and limbs the waters bruise,
That strives, yet can not rise.
O roads, O paths, O ways that lead
Through woods where all the oak-trees bleed
With autumn! and the frosty reds
Of fallen leaves make whispering beds
For winds to toss and turn upon,
Like restless Care that can not sleep,
Beneath whose rustling tatters wan
The last wildflow'r is buried deep:
One way of all I love to wend,
That towards the golden sunset goes,
A way, o'er which the red leaf blows,
With an old gateway at its end,
Where Summer, that my soul o'erflows,
My summer of love, blooms like a wildwood rose.
O winter ways, when spears of ice
Arm every bough! and in a vice
Of iron frost the streams are held;
When, where the deadened oak was felled
For firewood, deep the snow and sleet,
Where lone the muffled woodsmen toiled,
Are trampled down by heavy feet,
And network of the frost is spoiled,
O road I love to take again!
While gray the heaven sleets or snows,
At whose far end, at twilight's close,
Glimmers an oldtime window-pane,
Where spring, that is my heart's repose,
My spring of love, like a great fire glows.
The Forest Of Old Enchantment
Squaw-Berry, bramble, Solomon's-seal,
And rattlesnake-weed make wild the place:
You seem to feel that a Faun will steal
Or leap before your face. . . .
Is that the reel of a Satyr's heel,
Or the brook in its headlong race?
Yellow puccoon and the blue-eyed grass,
And briars a riot of bloom:
And now from the mass of that sassafras
What is it shakes perfume?
A Nymph, who has for her looking-glass
That pool in the mossy gloom?
Mile on mile of the trees and vines,
And rock and fern and root:
What is it pines where the wild-grape twines?
A dove? or Pan's own flute?
And there! what shines into rosy lines?
A flower? or Dryad's foot?
White-plantain, bluet, and, golden-clear,
The crowfoot's earth-bound star:
Now what draws near to the spirit ear?
A god? or a sunbeam-bar?
And what do we hear with a sense of fear?
Diana? or winds afar?
If we but thought as the old Greeks thought,
And knew what the ancients knew,
Then Beauty sought of the soul were caught
And breathed into being too:
And' out of naught were the real wrought,
And the dream of the world made true.
The Wood Brook
Like some wild child that laughs and weeps,
Impatient of its mother's arms,
The wood brook from the hillside leaps,
Eager to reach the neighboring farms:
Complaining crystal in its throat
It whimpers a protesting note.
The wildflowers that the forest weaves
To deck it with are thrust aside;
And all the little happy leaves,
That would detain it, are denied:
It must be gone; it does not care;
Away, away, no matter where.
Ah, if it knew what work awaits
Beyond the woodland's peaceful breast!
What toil and soil of man's estates!
What contact with life's sorriest,
A different mind it then might keep,
And hush its frenzy into sleep.
Make of its trouble there a pool,
A dim circumference filled with sky
And trees, wherein the beautiful
Contemplates silence with a sigh,
As mind communicates with mind
Of intimate things they have in kind.
Encircled of the wood's repose,
Contentment then to it would give
The peace of lily and of rose,
And love of all wild things that live;
And let it serve as looking-glass
For myths and dreams the wildwood has.
The Forest Spring
Push back the brambles, berry-blue:
The hollowed spring is full in view:
Deep-tangled with luxuriant fern
Its rock-embedded, crystal urn.
Not for the loneliness that keeps
The coigne wherein its silence sleeps;
Not for wild butterflies that sway
Their pansy pinions all the day
Above its mirror; nor the bee,
Nor dragon-fly, that passing see
Themselves reflected in its spar;
Not for the one white liquid star,
That twinkles in its firmament;
Nor moon-shot clouds, so slowly sent
Athwart it when the kindly night
Beads all its grasses with the light
Small jewels of the dimpled dew;
Not for the day's inverted blue
Nor the quaint, dimly coloured stones
That dance within it where it moans:
Not for all these I love to sit
In silence and to gaze in it.
But, know, a nymph with merry eyes
Looks at me from its laughing skies;
A graceful glimmering nymph who plays
All the long fragrant summer days
With instant sights of bees and birds,
And speaks with them in water words,
And for whose nakedness the air
Weaves moony mists, and on whose hair,
Unfilleted, the night will set
That lone star as a coronet.
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.
The vat-like cups of the fungus, filled
With the rain that fell last night,
Are casks of wine that the elves distilled
For revels the moon did light.
The owlet there with her 'Who-oh-who,'
And the frog with his 'All is right,'
Could tell a tale if they wanted to
Of what took place last night.
In that hollow beech, where the wood decays,
Their toadstool houses stand;
A little village of drabs and grays,
Cone-roofed, of Faeryland.
That moth, which gleams like a lichen there,
Is one of an elfin band,
That whisks away if you merely dare
To try to understand.
The snail, that slides on that mushroom's top,
And the slug on its sleepy trail,
Wax fat on the things the elves let drop
At feast in the moonlight pale.
The whippoorwill, that grieves and grieves,
If it would, could tell a tale
Of what took place here under the leaves
Last night on the Dreamland Trail.
The trillium there and the Mayapple,
With their white eyes opened wide,
Of many a secret sight could tell
If speech were not denied:
Of many a pixy revelry
And rout on which they've spied,
With the hollow tree, which there you see
Opens its eye-knots wide.
A Coign Of The Forest
The hills hang woods around, where green, below
Dark, breezy boughs of beech-trees, mats the moss,
Crisp with the brittle hulls of last year's nuts;
The water hums one bar there; and a glow
Of gold lies steady where the trailers toss
Red, bugled blossoms and a rock abuts;
In spots the wild-phlox and oxalis grow
Where beech-roots bulge the loam, protrude across
The grass-grown road and roll it into ruts.
And where the sumach brakes grow dusk and dense,
Among the rocks, great yellow violets,
Blue-bells and wind-flowers bloom; the agaric
In dampness crowds; a Fungus, thick, intense
With gold and crimson and wax-white, that sets
The May-apples along the terraced creek
At bold defiance. Where the old rail-fence
Divides the hollow, there the bee-bird whets
His bill, and there the elder hedge is thick.
No one can miss it; for two cat-birds nest,
Calling all morning, in the trumpet-vine;
And there at noon the pewee sits and floats
A woodland welcome; and his very best
At eve the red-bird sings, as if to sign
The record of its loveliness with notes.
At night the moon stoops over it to rest,
And unreluctant stars. Where waters shine
There runs a whisper as of wind-swept oats.
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!
Sunset In Autumn
Blood-Coloured oaks, that stand against a sky of gold and brass;
Gaunt slopes, on which the bleak leaves glow of brier and sassafras,
And broom-sedge strips of smoky-pink and pearl gray clumps of grass
In which, beneath the ragged sky, the rain pools gleam like glass.
From West to East, from wood to wood, along the forest-side,
The winds, the sowers of the Lord, with thunderous footsteps stride;
Their stormy hands rain acorns down; and mad leaves, wildly dyed,
Like tatters of their rushing cloaks, stream round them far and wide.
The frail leaf-cricket in the weeds rings a faint fairy bell;
And like a torch of phantom ray the milkweed's windy shell
Glimmers; while, wrapped in withered dreams, the wet autumnal smell
Of loam and leaf, like some sad ghost, steals over field and dell.
The oaks, against a copper sky o'er which, like some black lake
Of Dis, bronze clouds, like surges fringed with sullen fire, break
Loom sombre as Doom's citadel above the vales that make
A pathway to a land of mist the moon's pale feet shall take.
Now, dyed with burning carbuncle, a limbo-litten pane,
Within its walls of storm, the West opens to hill and plain,
On which the wild-geese ink themselves, a far triangled train,
And then the shuttering clouds close down and night is here again.
The Word In The Wood
Sullens to sombre crimson all its leaves;
And where it hugely heaves
A giant head dark as congested blood,
The gum-tree towers, against the sky a stroke
Of purpling gold; and every blur of wood
Is color on the pallet that she drops,
The Autumn, dreaming on the hazed hilltops.
And as I went
Through golden forests in a golden land,
Where Magic waved her wand
And dimmed the air with dreams my boyhood knew,
Enchantment met me; and again she bent
Her face to mine, and smiled with eyes of blue,
And kissed me on the mouth and bade me heed
Old tales again from books no man may read.
And at her word
The wood became transfigured; and, behold!
With hair of wavy gold
A presence walked there; and its beauty was
The beauty not of Earth: and then I heard
Within my heart vague voices, murmurous
And multitudinous as leaves that sow
The firmament when winds of autumn blow.
And I perceived
The voices were but one voice made of sighs,
That sorrowed in this wise:
'I am the child-soul that grew up and died,
The child-soul of the world that once believed,
Believed in me, but long ago denied;
The Faery Faith it needs no more to-day,
The folk-lore Beauty long since passed away.'
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
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.
The Wood Anemone
The thorn-tree waved a bough of May
And all its branches bent
To indicate the wildwood way
The Wind and Sunbeam went.
A wildrose here, a wildrose there
Lifted appealing eyes,
And looked the path they did not dare
Reveal in other wise.
Wild parsley tossed a plume of gold
And breathed so sweet a sigh,
I guessed the way, it never told,
Which they had hastened by.
I traced the Beam, so swift and white,
In many a woodland place
By wildflower footprints of its flight
And gleamings of its grace.
I knew its joy had filled with song
The high heart of the bird,
That rippled, rippled all day long
In dells that hushed and heard.
I knew the Wind with flashing feet
Had charmed the brook withal,
Who in its cascades did repeat
The music of that call.
All were in league to help me find,
Or tell to me the way,
Which now before me, now behind,
These two had gone in play.
I could not understand how these
Could hide so near to me,
When by the whispering of the trees
I knew the wood could see.
Until, all breathless with its joy,
The Wind, that could not rest,
Ran past me, like a romping boy,
And bade me look my best.
And there I saw them clasped in bliss
Beneath an old beech tree:
And-here's the flower born of their kiss
This wild anemone.
'Revels the Moon did light.'
She sits among the iris stalks
Of babbling brooks; and leans for hours
Among the river's lily flowers,
Or on their whiteness walks:
Above dark forest pools, gray rocks
Wall in, she leans with dripping locks,
And listening to the echo, talks
With her own face Iothera.
There is no forest of the hills,
No valley of the solitude,
Nor fern nor moss, that may elude
Her searching step that stills:
She dreams among the wild-rose brakes
Of fountains that the ripple shakes,
And, dreaming of herself, she fills
The silence with 'Iothera.'
And every wind that haunts the ways
Of leaf and bough, once having kissed
Her virgin nudity, goes whist
With wonder and amaze.
There blows no breeze which hath not learned
Her name's sweet melody, and yearned
To kiss her mouth that laughs and says,
No wild thing of the wood, no bird,
Or brown or blue, or gold or gray,
Beneath the sun's or moonlight's ray,
That hath not loved and heard;
They are her pupils; she can say
No new thing but, within a day,
They have its music, word for word,
Harmonious as Iothera.
No man who lives and is not wise
With love for common flowers and trees,
Bee, bird, and beast, and brook, and breeze,
And rocks and hills and skies,
Search where he will, shall ever see
One flutter of her drapery,
One glimpse of limbs, or hair, or eyes
Of beautiful Iothera.
A Forest Idyl
Beneath an old beech-tree
They sat together,
Fair as a flower was she
Of summer weather.
They spoke of life and love,
While, through the boughs above,
The sunlight, like a dove,
Dropped many a feather.
And there the violet,
The bluet near it,
Made blurs of azure wet
As if some spirit,
Or woodland dream, had gone
Sprinkling the earth with dawn,
When only Fay and Faun
Could see or hear it.
She with her young, sweet face
And eyes gray-beaming,
Made of that forest place
A spot for dreaming:
A spot for Oreads
To smooth their nut-brown braids,
For Dryads of the glades
To dance in, gleaming.
So dim the place, so blest,
One had not wondered
Had Dian's moonéd breast
The deep leaves sundered,
And there on them awhile
The goddess deigned to smile,
While down some forest aisle.
The far hunt thundered.
I deem that hour perchance
Was but a mirror
To show them Earth's romance
And draw them nearer:
A mirror where, meseems,
All that this Earth-life dreams,
All loveliness that gleams,
Their souls saw clearer.
Beneath an old beech-tree
They dreamed of blisses;
Fair as a flower was she
That summer kisses:
They spoke of dreams and days,
Of love that goes and stays,
Of all for which life prays,
Ah me! and misses.
The Spirit Of The Forest Spring
Over the rocks she trails her locks,
Her mossy locks that drip, drip, drip:
Her sparkling eyes smile at the skies
In friendship-wise and fellowship:
While the gleam and glance of her countenance
Lull into trance the woodland places,
As over the rocks she trails her locks,
Her dripping locks that the long fern graces.
She pours clear ooze from her heart's cool cruse,
Its crystal cruse that drips, drips, drips:
And all the day its limpid spray
Is heard to play from her finger tips:
And the slight, soft sound makes haunted ground
Of the woods around that the sunlight laces,
As she pours clear ooze from her heart's cool cruse,
Its dripping cruse that no man traces.
She swims and swims with glimmering limbs,
With lucid limbs that drip, drip, drip:
Where beechen boughs build a leafy house,
Where her eyes may drowse or her beauty trip:
And the liquid beat of her rippling feet
Makes three times sweet the forest mazes,
As she swims and swims with glimmering limbs,
With dripping limbs through the twilight hazes.
Then wrapped in deeps of the wild she sleeps,
She whispering sleeps and drips, drips, drips:
Where moon and mist wreathe neck and wrist,
And, starry-whist, through the dark she slips:
While the heavenly dream of her soul makes gleam
The falls that stream and the foam that races,
As wrapped in the deeps of the wild she sleeps,
She dripping sleeps or starward gazes.
A Forest Child
There is a place I search for still,
Sequestered as the world of dreams,
A bushy hollow, and a hill
That whispers with descending streams,
Cool, careless waters, wandering down,
Like Innocence who runs to town,
Leaving the wildwood and its dreams,
And prattling like the forest streams.
But still in dreams I meet again
The child who bound me, heart and hand,
And led me with a wildflower chain
Far from our world, to Faeryland:
Who made me see and made me know
The lovely Land of Long-Ago,
Leading me with her little hand
Into the world of Wonderland.
The years have passed: how far away
The day when there I met the child,
The little maid, who was a fay,
Whose eyes were dark and undefiled
And crystal as a woodland well,
That holds within its depths a spell,
Enchantments, featured like a child,
A dream, a poetry undefiled.
Around my heart she wrapped her hair,
And bound my soul with lips and eyes,
And led me to a cavern, where
Grey Legend dwelt in kingly guise,
Her kinsman, dreamier than the moon,
Who called her Fancy, read her rune,
And bade her with paternal eyes
Divest herself of her disguise.
And still I walk with her in dreams,
Though many years have passed since then,
And that high hill and its wild streams
Are lost as is that faery glen.
And as the years go swiftly by
I find it harder, when I try,
To meet with her, who led me then
Into the wildness of that glen.
The Wood Witch
There is a woodland witch who lies
With bloom-bright limbs and beam-bright eyes,
Among the water-flags that rank
The slow brook's heron-haunted bank.
The dragon-flies, brass-bright and blue,
Are signs she works her sorcery through;
Weird, wizard characters she weaves
Her spells by under forest leaves,
These wait her word, like imps, upon
The gray flag-pods; their wings, of lawn
And gauze; their bodies, gleaming green.
While o'er the wet sand, left between
The running water and the still,
In pansy hues and daffodil,
The fancies that she doth devise
Take on the forms of butterflies,
Rich-coloured. And 'tis she you hear,
Whose sleepy rune, hummed in the ear
Of silence, bees and beetles purr,
And the dry-droning locusts whirr;
Till, where the wood is very lone,
Vague monotone meets monotone,
And slumber is begot and born,
A faery child beneath the thorn.
There is no mortal who may scorn
The witchery she spreads around
Her din demesne, wherein is bound
The beauty of abandoned time,
As some sweet thought 'twixt rhyme and rhyme.
And through her spells you shall behold
The blue turn gray, the gray turn gold
Of hollow heaven; and the brown
Of twilight vistas twinkled down
With fireflies; and in the gloom
Feel the cool vowels of perfume
Slow-syllabled of weed and bloom.
But, in the night, at languid rest,
When like a spirit's naked breast
The moon slips from a silver mist,
With star-bound brow, and star-wreathed wrist,
If you should see her rise and wave
You welcome ah! what thing could save
You then? for evermore her slave!
The Moon In The Wood
From hill and hollow, side by side,
The shadows came, like dreams, to sit
And watch, mysterious, sunset-eyed,
The wool-winged moths and bats aflit,
And the lone owl that cried and cried.
And then the forest rang a gong,
Hoarse, toadlike; and from out the gate
Of darkness came a sound of song,
As of a gnome that called his mate,
Who answered in his own strange tongue.
And all the forest leaned to hear,
And saw, from forth the entangling trees,
A naked spirit drawing near,
A glimmering presence, whom the breeze
Kept whispering, 'Forward! Have no fear.'
The woodland, seeming at a loss,
Afraid to breathe, or make a sound,
Poured, where her silvery feet should cross,
A dripping pathway on the ground,
And hedged it in with ferns and moss.
And then the silence sharply shook
A cricket tambourine; and Night
From out her musky bosom took
A whippoorwill flute, and, lost to sight
Sat piping to a wildwood brook.
Until from out the shadows came
A furtive foot, a gleam, a glow;
And with a lamp of crystal flame
The spirit stole, as white as snow,
And put the firmament to shame.
Then up and down vague movements went,
As if the faeries sought an herb;
And here and there a bush was bent,
A wildflower raised: the wood-pool's curb
Was circled with a scarf of scent.
And deep within her house of weeds
Old Mystery hung a glowworm lamp,
And decked her hair with firefly beads,
And sate herself 'mid dew and damp,
And crooned a love-song to the reeds.
Then through the gates of solitude,
Where Witchery her shuttle plied,
The Spirit entered, white and nude
And where she went, on every side,
Dreams followed through the solitude.
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.
The Charcoal-Burner's Hut
Deep in a valley, green with ancient beech,
And wandered through of one small, silent stream,
Whose bear-grassed banks bristled with brush and burr,
Tick-trefoil and the thorny marigold,
Bush-clover and the wahoo, hung with pods,
And mass on mass of bugled jewelweed,
Horsemint and doddered ragweed, dense, unkempt,
I came upon a charcoal-burner's hut,
Abandoned and forgotten long ago;
His hut and weedy pit, where once the wood
Smouldered both day and night like some wild forge,
A wildwood forge, glaring as wild-cat eyes.
A mossy roof, black, fallen in decay,
And rotting logs, exuding sickly mold
And livid fungi, and the tottering wreck,
Rude remnants, of a chimney, clay and sticks,
Were all that now remained to say that once,
In time not so remote, one labored here,
Labored and lived, his world bound by these woods:
A solitary soul whose life was toil,
Toil, grimy and unlovely: sad, recluse,
A life, perhaps, that here went out alone,
Alone and unlamented.
Haply, somewhere, in some far wilder spot,
Far in the forest, lone as was his life,
A grave, an isolated grave, may mark,
Tangled with cat-brier and the strawberry-bush,
The place he lies in; undistinguishable
From the surrounding forest where the lynx
Whines in the moonlight and the she-fox whelps.
A life as some wood-fungus now forgotten:
The Indian-pipe, or ghost-flower, here that rises
And slowly rots away in autumn rains.
Or, it may be, a comrade carved a line
Of date and death on some old trunk of tree,
Whose letters long ago th' erasing rust
Of moss and gradual growth of drowsy years
Slowly obliterated: or, may be,
The rock, all rudely lettered, like his life,
Set up above him by some kindly hand,
A tree's great, grasping roots have overthrown,
Where lichens long ago effaced his name.
The Wood God
I Heard his step upon the moss;
I glimpsed his shadow in the stream;
And thrice I saw the brambles toss
Wherein he vanished like a dream.
A great beech aimed a giant stroke
At my bent head, in mad alarm;
And then a chestnut and an oak
Struck at me with a knotted arm.
The brambles clutched at me; and fear
For one swift instant held me fast
Just long enough to let me hear
His windlike footsteps vanish past.
The brushwood made itself more dense,
And looped my feet with green delay;
And, threatening every violence,
The rocks and thorns opposed my way.
But still I followed; strove and strained
In spite of all the wood devised
To hold me back, and on him gained
The deity I had surprised.
The genius of the wood, whose flute
Had led me far; at first, to see
The imprint of his form and foot
Upon the moss beneath the tree.
A bird piped warning and he fled:
I saw a gleam of gold and green:
The woodland held its breath for dread
That its great godhead would be seen.
Could I but speak him face to face,
And for a while his joy behold,
What visions there might then take place,
What myst'ries of the woods be told!
And well I knew that he was near
By that soft sound the water made
Upon its rock; and by the fear
The wind unto the leaves betrayed.
And by the sign bough made to bough,
The secret signal, brusque and brief,
That said, 'On guard! He's looking now!'
And pointed at me every leaf.
Then suddenly the way lay wide;
The brambles ceased to clutch and tear;
And even the grim trees shrunk aside,
And motioned me, 'He's there! he's there!'
A ruse! I knew it for a ruse,
To thwart my search at last. But I
Had been a fool to follow clues,
And let the god himself pass by.
And then the wood in mighty mirth
Laughed at me, all its bulk a-swing;
It roared and bent its giant girth
As if it'd done a clever thing.
But I, on whom its scorn was spent,
Said not a word, but turned away:
To me this truth was evident
No man may see the gods to-day.
Myth And Romance
When I go forth to greet the glad-faced Spring,
Just at the time of opening apple-buds,
When brooks are laughing, winds are whispering,
On babbling hillsides or in warbling woods,
There is an unseen presence that eludes:
Perhaps a Dryad, in whose tresses cling
The loamy odors of old solitudes,
Who, from her beechen doorway, calls; and leads
My soul to follow; now with dimpling words
Of leaves; and now with syllables of birds;
While here and there-is it her limbs that swing?
Or restless sunlight on the moss and weeds?
Or, haply, 't is a Naiad now who slips,
Like some white lily, from her fountain's glass,
While from her dripping hair and breasts and hips,
The moisture rains cool music on the grass.
Her have I heard and followed, yet, alas!
Have seen no more than the wet ray that dips
The shivered waters, wrinkling where I pass;
But, in the liquid light, where she doth hide,
I have beheld the azure of her gaze
Smiling; and, where the orbing ripple plays,
Among her minnows I have heard her lips,
Bubbling, make merry by the waterside.
Or now it is an Oread-whose eyes
Are constellated dusk-who stands confessed,
As naked as a flow'r; her heart's surprise,
Like morning's rose, mantling her brow and breast:
She, shrinking from my presence, all distressed
Stands for a startled moment ere she flies,
Her deep hair blowing, up the mountain crest,
Wild as a mist that trails along the dawn.
And is't her footfalls lure me? or the sound
Of airs that stir the crisp leaf on the ground?
And is't her body glimmers on yon rise?
Or dog-wood blossoms snowing on the lawn?
Now't is a Satyr piping serenades
On a slim reed. Now Pan and Faun advance
Beneath green-hollowed roofs of forest glades,
Their feet gone mad with music: now, perchance,
Sylvanus sleeping, on whose leafy trance
The Nymphs stand gazing in dim ambuscades
Of sun-embodied perfume.-Myth, Romance,
Where'er I turn, reach out bewildering arms,
Compelling me to follow. Day and night
I hear their voices and behold the light
Of their divinity that still evades,
And still allures me in a thousand forms.
Sylvan, they say, and nymph are gone;
And yet I saw the two last night,
When overhead the moon sailed white,
And through the mists, her light made wan,
Each bush and tree doffed its disguise,
And stood revealed to mortal eyes.
The hollow, rimmed with rocks and trees,
And massed with ferns and matted vines,
Seemed an arena mid the pines,
A theatre of mysteries,
Where oread and satyr met,
And all the myths that men forget.
The rain and frost had carved the rocks
With faces that were wild and strange,
Which Protean fancy seemed to change
Each moment in the granite blocks,
That seemed slow dreaming into form
The gods grotesque of wind and storm.
Then suddenly Diana stood,
Slim as a shaft of moonlight, there,
Immortalizing earth and air
With perfect beauty: through the wood
Her maidens went as brightness goes
Athwart a cloud at evening's close.
And then I saw a faun push through
The thorny berry; at his lip
Twinkled a pipe that seemed to drip
Dim sounds of crickets and of dew,
Things that, in strange reality,
Seemed born of his frail melody.
And then I saw the naiad rise
From out her rock; a form of spar,
In which her heart shone like a star,
And like the moon her hair and eyes;
She smiled, and at each smile, it seemed,
Some wildflower into being gleamed.
And then the dryad from her beech
Came, silver white as is its bark;
And slender through the dreaming dark
I saw her go: a whispering speech
Was hers from whose soft murmured words
Is made the language of the birds.
Then satyrs and the centaurs passed:
And then old Pan himself; and there,
Flying before him, all her hair
About her like a mist, the last
Wild nymph I saw; and as she went
The woods as with a wind were bent.
And in the hush, like some slow rose
That knows not yet that it is born,
A premonition of the morn
Bloomed; and from out its far repose,
Borne over ocean, through the wood,
A sighing swept the solitude.
Then nothing more. But I had seen
That Pan still lives and all his train,
Whatever men say: they remain
The unseen forces; they that mean
Nature; its awe and majesty,
That symbolize mythology.
The Old House In The Wood
Weeds and dead leaves, and leaves the Autumn stains
With hues of rust and rose whence moisture weeps;
Gnarl'd thorns, from which the knotted haw-fruit rains
On paths the gray moss heaps.
One golden flower, like a dreamy thought
In the sad mind of Age, makes bright the wood;
And near it, like a fancy Childhood-fraught,
The toadstool's jaunty hood.
Webs, in whose snares the nimble spiders crouch,
Waiting the prey that comes, moon-winged, with night:
Slugs and the snail which trails the mushroom's pouch,
That marks the wood with white.
An old gaunt house, round which the trees decay,
Its porches fallen and its windows gone,
Starts out at you as if to bar the way,
Or bid you hurry on.
A picket fence, grim as a skeleton arm,
Is flung around a weed-wild garden place;
The gate, o'er which the rose once hung its charm,
Gapes in an empty space.
Here nothing that was beauty's now remains:
Old death and sorrow have made all their own,
And life and love, who wrought here, for their pains
Have nothingness alone.
I stand before the shattered fence and gaze:
All, all is silent now where once was noise
Of household duties, gossip of kind days,
And little children's joys.
Then suddenly I see a shadow slip
From out the house: A ghost of bygone years;
One finger lifted to its pallid lip,
It passes me with tears.
It passes me 'mid whirling leaves and rain.
Between the trees I see it gleam and glide.
I know it for the dream which once in vain
My heart had made its guide.
Was it for this that I had come the blind
Old ways of life back to Love's house again?
The house of Memory, there again to find
The dream that proved in vain?
A will-o'-wisp; a faery fire; a spark,
That led me where I knew not; and at last
Would leave me, lost within the woodland dark,
'Mid shadows of the past.
Again I followed; and again it failed.
And night came on. And then once more it seemed
That all was lost; that nothing more availed
Wen, lo! a window gleamed,
And I was home. . . . Thank God for love! and light,
Set inthe window of the days that were!
And for the dream, though vain, that through the night
Leads back to home and her!
The Wood Thrush
Bird, with the voice of gold,
Dropping wild bar on bar,
To which the flowers unfold,
Star upon gleaming star,
Here in the forest old:
Bird, with the note as clear,
Cool as a bead of dew,
To which the buds, that hear,
Open deep eyes of blue,
Prick up a rosy ear:
Shut in your house of leaves,
Bubbles of song you blow,
Showered whence none perceives,
Taking the wood below
Till its green bosom heaves.
Music of necromance,
Circles of silvering sound,
Wherein the fairies dance,
Weaving an elfin round,
Till the whole wood's a-trance.
Till, with the soul, one hears
Footsteps of mythic things:
Fauns, with their pointed ears,
Piping to haunted springs,
And the white nymph that nears.
Dryads, that rustle from
Trunks of unclosing trees,
Glimmering shapes that come
Clothed on with bloom and breeze,
Spirits of light and air,
Bodied of dawn and dusk,
Peeping from blossoms there,
Windows of dew and musk,
Starry with firefly hair.
Moth-winged and bee-like forms,
Rippling with flower-tints,
Waving their irised arms,
Weaving of twilight glints
Wonders and wildwood charms.
Myths of the falling foam,
Tossing their hair of spray,
Driving the minnows home,
Shepherding them the way,
Safe from the water-gnome.
Or from the streaming stone
Drawing with liquid strokes
Many a crystal tone,
Music their joy evokes,
Filling the forest lone.
Art thou a voice or bird,
Lost in the world of trees?
Or but a dream that's heard
Telling of mysteries,
Saying an unknown word?
Art thou a sprite? or sound
Blown on a flute of fays?
Going thy wildwood round,
Haunting the woodland ways,
Making them holy ground.
Art thou a dream that Spring
Utters? a hope, her soul
Voices? whose pulses sing
On to some fairer goal,
Wild as a heart or wing.
Art thou the gold and green
Voice of the ancient wood?
Syllabling soft, between
Silence and solitude,
All that it dreams unseen...
Bird, like a wisp, a gleam,
Lo! you have led me far
Would I were what you seem,
Or what you really are,
Bird with the voice of dream!
The Lamp At The Window
Like some gaunt ghost the tempest wails
Outside my door; its icy nails
Beat on the pane: and Night and Storm
Around the house, with furious flails
Of wind, from which the slant sleet hails,
Stalk up and down; or, arm in arm,
Stand giant guard; the wild-beast lair
Of their fierce bosoms black and bare.
My lamp is lit, I have no fear.
Through night and storm my love draws near.
Now through the forest how they go,
With whirlwind hoofs and manes of snow,
The beasts of tempest, Winter herds!
That lift huge heads of mist and low
Like oxen; beasts of air that blow
Ice from their nostrils; winged like birds,
And bullock-breasted, onward hurled,
That shake with tumult all the world.
My lamp is set where love can see,
Who through the tempest comes to me.
I press my face against the pane,
And seem to see, from wood and plain,
In phantom thousands, stormy pale,
The ghosts of forests, tempest-slain,
Vast wraiths of woodlands, rise and strain
And rock wild limbs against the gale;
Or, borne in fragments overhead,
Sow night with horror and with dread.
He comes! my light is as an arm
To guide him onward through the storm.
I hear the tempest from the sky
Cry, eagle-like, its battle-cry;
I hear the night, upon the peaks,
Send back its condor-like reply;
And then again come booming by
The forest's challenge, hoarse as speaks
Hate unto hate, or wrath to wrath,
When each draws sword and sweeps the path.
But let them rage! through darkness far
My bright light leads him like a star.
The cliffs, with all their plumes of pines,
Bow down high heads: the battle-lines
Of all the hills, that iron seams,
Shudder through all their rocky spines:
And under shields of matted vines
The vales crouch down: and all the streams
Are hushed and frozen as with fear
As from the deeps the winds draw near.
But let them come! my lamp is lit!
Nor shall their fury flutter it.
Now 'round and 'round, with stride on stride,
In Boreal armor, darkness-dyed,
I hear the thunder of their strokes
The heavens are rocked on every side
With all their clouds: and far and wide
The earth roars back with all its oaks.
Still at the pane burns bright my light
To guide him onward through the night;
To lead love through the night and storm
Where my young heart shall make him warm.
The Forest Of Fear
The cut-throat darkness hemmed me 'round:
I waited, helpless in its grasp.
The forest gave no sign or sound:
The wind was dead: no insect's rasp
I heard, nor water's gulp and gasp
Fitting its strength against a stone.
The only sound that there was made
Was my wild heart's that sobbed alone,
Knowing itself to be afraid
Of that vast wood where it had strayed.
I dared not move. There was no star
To indicate where God might be.
Night and his henchmen, without bar,
Had there assumed their empery.
Nothing but prayer was left to me.
Around me seemed to loom the dead
Of ages past, gaunt in the gloom.
And when I heard a stealthy tread
As of one groping from the tomb,
I braced myself to meet my doom.
And then I heard a breathing low
As of a beast that seeks its prey;
And then the footstep, soft and slow,
Approached again from far away.
I held my breath lest it betray
Me to some Death in monstrous guise?
With fang or talon, or a blade
Grasped in a hand of giant size?
Or was't a fiend? And then I prayed,
Who never yet had prayed, for aid.
I closed my eyes. My heart was still.
I did not look. I knew it stood
Glaring upon me all its fill.
When would it strike? The ancient wood
Seemed waiting eager for my blood.
I prayed and prayed. The something there
Stood waiting still a fiend from Hell
Gloating upon my soul's despair?
This was the end, I knew too well;
It pealed within me like a bell.
And then I thought, 'In spite of all,
It is but death. Earth can not go
Further than death, whate'er befall.
With open eyes I'll take the blow,
And face to face now meet my foe.'
'My foe?' Perhaps it was a friend.
What whim put in my heart that thought?
I had no friends. This was the end,
And I would face it: I was caught
In the old gin that sin had wrought.
And then I looked I looked to see
How could it be? serene of eye,
A little Child beneath a tree.
A Child that glimmered starrily;
A Christ-like Child not born to die.
And overhead I saw the night'
Had doffed its cowl of, black, and stood
Revealed in azure and in white,
While all the staring solitude
Looked on the round moon o'er the wood.
I called the Child. It smiling came;
Undid the bonds of my despair,
And led me forth. I said, 'Your name?'
I t smiled and, gazing, answered, 'Prayer.'
And with that word went into air.
Evening On The Farm
From out the hills where twilight stands,
Above the shadowy pasture lands,
With strained and strident cry,
Beneath pale skies that sunset bands,
The bull-bats fly.
A cloud hangs over, strange of shape,
And, colored like the half-ripe grape,
Seems some uneven stain
On heaven's azure; thin as crape,
And blue as rain.
By ways, that sunset's sardonyx
O'erflares, and gates the farm-boy clicks,
Through which the cattle came,
The mullein-stalks seem giant wicks
Of downy flame.
From woods no glimmer enters in,
Above the streams that, wandering, win
To where the wood pool bids,
Those haunters of the dusk begin,-
Adown the dark the firefly marks
Its flight in gold and emerald sparks;
And, loosened from his chain,
The shaggy mastiff bounds and barks,
And barks again.
Each breeze brings scents of hill-heaped hay;
And now an owlet, far away,
Cries twice or thrice, 'T-o-o-w-h-o-o';
And cool dim moths of mottled gray
Flit through the dew.
The silence sounds its frog-bassoon,
Where, on the woodland creek's lagoon,-
Pale as a ghostly girl
Lost 'mid the trees,-looks down the moon
With face of pearl.
Within the shed where logs, late hewed,
Smell forest-sweet, and chips of wood
Make blurs of white and brown,
The brood-hen cuddles her warm brood
Of teetering down.
The clattering guineas in the tree
Din for a time; and quietly
The henhouse, near the fence,
Sleeps, save for some brief rivalry
Of cocks and hens.
A cowbell tinkles by the rails,
Where, streaming white in foaming pails,
Milk makes an uddery sound;
While overhead the black bat trails
Around and round.
The night is still. The slow cows chew
A drowsy cud. The bird that flew
And sang is in its nest.
It is the time of falling dew,
Of dreams and rest.
The beehives sleep; and round the walk,
The garden path, from stalk to stalk
The bungling beetle booms,
Where two soft shadows stand and talk
Among the blooms.
The stars are thick: the light is dead
That dyed the west: and Drowsyhead,
Tuning his cricket-pipe,
Nods, and some apple, round and red,
Now down the road, that shambles by,
A window, shining like an eye
Through climbing rose and gourd,
Shows Age and young Rusticity
Seated at board.
Now is it as if Spring had never been,
And Winter but a memory and dream,
Here where the Summer stands, her lap of green
Heaped high with bloom and beam,
Among her blackberry-lilies, low that lean
To kiss her feet; or, freckle-browed, that stare
Upon the dragonfly which, slimly-seen,
Like a blue jewel flickering in her hair,
Sparkles above them there.
Knee-deep among the tepid pools the cows
Chew a slow cud or switch a slower tail,
Half-sunk in sleep beneath the beechen boughs,
Where thin the wood-gnats ail.
From bloom to bloom the languid butterflies drowse;
The sleepy bees make hardly any sound;
The only things the sunrays can arouse,
It seems, are two black beetles rolling 'round
Upon the dusty ground.
Within its channel glares the creek and shrinks,
Beneath whose rocks the furtive crawfish hides
In stagnant places, where the green frog blinks,
And water-spider glides.
Far hotter seems it for the bird that drinks,
The startled kingfisher that screams and flies;
Hotter and lonelier for the purple pinks
Of weeds that bloom, whose sultry perfumes rise
Stifling the swooning skies.
From ragweed fallows, rye fields, heaped with sheaves,
From blistering rocks, no moss or lichens crust,
And from the road, where every hoof-stroke heaves
A cloud of burning dust,
The hotness quivers, making limp the leaves,
That loll like tongues of panting hounds. The heat
Is a wan wimple that the Summer weaves,
A veil, in which she wraps, as in a sheet,
The shriveling corn and wheat.
Furious, incessant in the weeds and briers
The sawing weed-bugs sing; and, heat-begot,
The grasshoppers, so many strident wires,
Staccato fiercely hot:
A lash of whirling sound that never tires,
The locust flails the noon, where harnessed Thirst,
Beside the road-spring, many a shod hoof mires,
Into the trough thrusts his hot head, immersed,
'Round which cool bubbles burst.
The sad, sweet voice of some wood-spirit who
Laments while watching a loved oak tree die,
From the deep forest comes the wood-dove's coo,
A long, lost, lonely cry.
Oh, for a breeze, a mighty wind to woo
The woods to stormy laughter; sow like grain
The world with freshness of invisible dew,
And pile above far, fevered hill and plain,
Vast bastions black with rain.
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?