A Road Song
It's-Oh, for the hills, where the wind's some one
With a vagabond foot that follows!
And a cheer-up hand that he claps upon
Your arm with the hearty words, 'Come on!
We'll soon be out of the hollows,
We'll soon be out of the hollows.'
It's-Oh, for the songs, where the hope's some one
With a renegade foot that doubles!
And a jolly lilt that he flings to the sun
As he turns with the friendly laugh, 'Come on!
We'll soon be out of the troubles,
We'll soon be out of the troubles!'
CALLING, the heron flies athwart the blue
That sleeps above it; reach on rocky reach
Of water sings by sycamore and beech,
In whose warm shade bloom lilies not a few.
It is a page whereon the sun and dew
Scrawl sparkling words in dawn’s delicious speech;
A laboratory where the wood-winds teach,
Dissect each scent and analyze each hue.
Not otherwise than beautiful, doth it
Record the happenings of each summer day;
Where we may read, as in a catalogue,
When passed a thresher; when a load of hay;
Or when a rabbit; or a bird that lit;
And now a barefoot truant and his dog.
Along the road I smelt the rose,
The wild-rose in its veil of rain;
And how it was, God only knows,
But with its scent I saw again
A girl's face at a window-pane,
Gazing through tears that fell like rain.
'Tis twelve years now, so I suppose.
Twelve years ago. 'Twas then I thought,
'Love is a burden bitter-sweet.
And he who runs must not be fraught:
Free must his heart be as his feet.'
Again I heard myself repeat,
'Love is a burden bitter-sweet.'
Yet all my aims had come to nought.
I smelt the rose; I felt the rain
Lonely I stood upon the road.
Of one thing only was I fain
To be delivered of my load.
A moment more and on I strode.
I cared not whither led the road
That led not back to her again.
At The End Of The Road
THIS is the truth as I see it, my dear,
Out in the wind and the rain:
They who have nothing have little to fear,—
Nothing to lose or to gain.
Here by the road at the end o' the year,
Let us sit down and drink o' our beer,
Happy-Go-Lucky and her cavalier,
Out in the wind and the rain.
Now we are old, oh isn't it fine
Out in the wind and the rain?
Now we have nothing why snivel and whine? —
What would it bring us again? —
When I was young I took you like wine,
Held you and kissed you and thought you divine —
Happy-Go-Lucky, the habit's still mine,
Out in the wind and the rain.
Oh, my old Heart, what a life we have led,
Out in the wind and the rain!
How we have drunken and how we have fed!
Nothing to lose or to gain! —
Cover the fire now; get we to bed.
Long was the journey and far has it led:
Come, let us sleep, lass, sleep like the dead,
Out in the wind and the rain.
On The Road
LET us bid the world good-by,
Now while sun and cloud's above us,
While we've nothing to deny,
Nothing but our selves to love us:
Let us fancy, I and you,
All the dreams we dreamed came true.
We have gone but half the road,
Rugged road of root and bowlder;
Made the best of Life's dark load,
Cares, that helped us to grow older:
We, my dear, have done our best —
Let us stop awhile and rest.
Let us, by this halfway stile,
Put away the world's desire,
And sit down, a little while,
With our hearts, and light a fire:
Sing the songs that once we sung
In the days when we were young.
Haply they will bring again,
From the Lands of Song and Story,
To our sides the elfin train
Of the dreams we dreamed of glory,
That are one now with the crew
Of the deeds we did not do.
Here upon the road of Life
Let us rest us; take our pleasure:
Free from care and safe from strife,
Count again our only treasure —
Love, that helped us on our way,
Our companion night and day.
The Road Back
Come, walk with me and Memory;
And let us see what we shall see:
A wild green lane of stones and weeds
That to a wilder woodland leads.
An old board gate, the lichens crust,
Whose ancient hinges croak with rust.
A vale; a creek; and a bridge of planks,
And the wild sunflowers that wall its banks:
A path that winds through shine and shade
To a ferned and wildflowered forest glade;
Where, out of a grotto, a voice replies
With a faint hollo to your voice that cries:
And every wind that passes seems
A foot that follows from Lands o' Dreams.
A voice, a foot, and a shadow, too,
That whispers of things your childhood knew:
A girl that waited, a boy that came,
And an old beech tree where he carved her name;
Where still he sees her, whom still he hears
Bidding him come through the long-gone years. . . .
How oft she beckons your heart and mine
From the farmhouse window trailed deep with vine,
And porched with roses! where all must know
She used to live in the long-ago.
The farmhouse there at the end o' the lane,
With the sunset twinkling its windowpane;
Where she smiles as she smiled in the Long-ago,
The farmer's daughter you used to know,
Who has not changed to your heart for years,
Though her face you often see through tears:
Who wears her youth, as she did of old,
As a princess weareth a crown of gold.
The little sweetheart, you know for truth,
Who lives for aye in the Land of Youth;
Who never dies; who is always fair,
With eyes of mischief and tomboy hair:
Whom your heart still follows and worships, it seems,
Forever and aye in the Land o' Dreams.
The Road Home
Over the hills, as the pewee flies,
Under the blue of the Southern skies;
Over the hills, where the red-bird wings
Like a scarlet blossom, or sits and sings:
Under the shadow of rock and tree,
Where the warm wind drones with the honey-bee;
And the tall wild-carrots around you sway
Their lace-like flowers of cloudy gray:
By the black-cohosh with its pearly plume
A-nod in the woodland's odorous gloom;
By the old rail-fence, in the elder's shade,
That the myriad hosts of the weeds invade:
Where the butterfly-weed, like a coal of fire,
Blurs orange-red through bush and brier;
Where the pennyroyal and mint smell sweet,
And blackberries tangle the summer heat,
The old road leads; then crosses the creek,
Where the minnow dartles, a silvery streak;
Where the cows wade deep through the blue-eyed grass,
And the flickering dragonflies gleaming pass.
That road is easy, however long,
Which wends with beauty as toil with song;
And the road we follow shall lead us straight
Past creek and wood to a farmhouse gate.
Past hill and hollow, whence scents are blown
Of dew-wet clover that scythes have mown;
To a house that stands with porches wide
And gray low roof on the green hill-side.
Colonial, stately; 'mid shade and shine
Of the locust-tree and the Southern pine;
With its orchard acres and meadowlands
Stretched out before it like welcoming hands.
And gardens, where, in the myrrh-sweet June,
Magnolias blossom with many a moon
Of fragrance; and, in the feldspar light
Of August, roses bloom red and white.
In a woodbine arbor, a perfumed place,
A slim girl sits with a happy face;
Her bonnet by her, a sunbeam lies
On her lovely hair, in her earnest eyes.
Her eyes, as blue as the distant deeps
Of the heavens above where the high hawk sleeps;
A book beside her, wherein she read
Till she saw him coming, she heard his tread.
Come home at last; come back from the war;
In his eyes a smile, on his brow a scar:
To the South come back who wakes from her dream
To the love and peace of a new regime.
I took the road again last night
On which my boyhood's hills look down;
The old road leading from the town,
The village there below the height,
Its cottage homes, all huddled brown,
Each with its blur of light.
The old road, full of ruts, that leads,
A winding streak of limestone-grey,
Over the hills and far away;
That's crowded here by arms of weeds
And elbows of railfence, asway
With flowers that no one heeds:
That's dungeoned here by rocks and trees
And maundered to by waters; there
Lifted into the free wild air
Of meadow-land serenities:
The old road, stretching far and fair
To where my tired heart sees.
That says, 'Come, take me for a mile;
And let me show you mysteries:
The things the yellow moon there sees,
And those few stars that 'round her smile:
Come, take me, now you are at ease,
And walk with me a while.'
And I I took it at its word:
And friendships, clothed in olden guise,
Walked with me; and, as I surmise,
Old dreams for twenty years unheard;
And love, who gazed into my eyes
As once when youth adored.
And voices, vocal silences;
And visions, that my youth had seen,
Slipped from each side, in silvery green,
And spoke to me in memories;
And recollections smiled between
My tear-wet face and trees.
Enchantment walked by field and farm,
And whispered me on either side;
And where the fallows broadened wide
Dim mystery waved a moon-white arm,
Or, from the woodland, moonbeam-eyed,
Beckoned a filmy form.
Spirits of wind and starlight wove
From fern to fern a drowsy dance;
Or o'er the wood-stream hung a-trance:
And from the leaves, that dreamed above,
The elfin-dew dropped many a lance
Of light and, glimmering, drove.
Star-arrows through the warmth and musk,
That sparkled on the moss and loam,
And shook from bells of wildflower foam
The bee-like music of the dusk,
And rimmed with spars the lily's dome
And morning-glory's tusk.
And, soft as cobwebs, I beheld
The moths, they say that fairies use
As coursers, come by ones and twos
From stables of the blossoms belled:
While busily, among the dews,
Where croaked the toad and swelled,
The nimble spider climbed his thread,
Or diagramed a dim design,
Or flung, above, a slender line
To launder dews on. Overhead
An insect drew its dagger fine
And stabbed the stillness dead.
And there! far at the lane's dark end,
A light showed, like a glow-worm lamp:
And through the darkness, summer-damp,
An old rose-garden seemed to send
Sweet word to me as of a camp
Of dreams around the bend.
And there a gate! whereat, mid deeps
Of honeysuckle dewiness,
She stood whose lips were mine to press
How long ago! for whom still leaps
My heart with longing and, no less,
With passion here that sleeps.
The smiling face of girlhood; eyes
Of wine-warm brown; and heavy hair,
Auburn as autumn in his lair,
Took me again with swift surprise,
As oft they took me, coming there
In days of bygone ties.
The cricket and the katydid
Pierced silence with their stinging sounds;
The firefly went its golden rounds,
Where, lifting slow one sleepy lid,
The baby rosebud dreamed; and mounds
Of lilies breathed half-hid.
The white moon waded through a cloud,
Like some pale woman through a pool:
And in the darkness, close and cool
I felt a form against me bowed,
Her breast to mine; and deep and full
Her maiden heart beat loud.
I never dreamed it was a trick
That fancy played me; memory
And moonlight.... Yet, it well may be
The old road, too, that night was quick
With dreams that were reality
To every stone and stick.
For instantly when, overhead,
The moon swam there! where soft had gleamed
That vision, now no creature seemed
Only a ruined house and shed.
Was it a dream the old road dreamed?
Or I of her long dead?