Madison Julius Cawein Poems >>
One Day And Another: A Lyrical Eclogue - Part II

EARLY SUMMER

   _The cricket in the rose-bush hedge
    Sings by the vine-entangled gate;
   The slim moon slants a timid edge
    Of pearl through one low cloud of slate;
   Around dark door and window-ledge
    Like dreams the shadows wait.
   And through the summer dusk she goes,
    On her white breast a crimson rose._


1

_She delays, meditating. A rainy afternoon._

 Gray skies and the foggy rain
  Dripping from sullen eaves;
 Over and over again
  Dull drop of the trickling leaves;
 And the woodward-winding lane,
  And the hill with its shocks of sheaves
  One scarce perceives.

 Shall I go in such wet weather
  By the lane or over the hill?--
 Where the blossoming milkweed's feather
  The drops like diamonds fill;
 Where, draggled and drenched together,
  The ox-eyes rank the rill,
  To the old corn-mill.

 The creek by now is swollen,
  And its foaming cascades sound;
 And the lilies, smeared with pollen,
  In the dam look dull and drowned.
 'Tis a path I oft have stolen
  To the bridge that rambles round
  With willows bound.

 Through a valley wild with berry,
  Packed thick with the iron-weeds,
 And elder,--washed and very
  Fragrant,--the fenced path leads;
 Past oak and wilding cherry
  To a place of flags and reeds,
  That the water bredes.

 The sun through the sad sky bleaches--
  Is that a thrush that calls?
 That bird who so beseeches?
  And see! on the balsam's balls,
 And leaves of the water-beeches--
  One blister of wart-like galls--
  No raindrop falls.

 My shawl instead of a bonnet!...
  Though the woods be soaking yet,
 Through the wet to the rock I'll run it,--
  How sweet to meet i' the wet!
 Our rock with the vine upon it,--
  Each flower a fiery jet--
  Where oft we've met!


2

_They meet. He speaks._

 How fresh the purple clover
  Smells in its veil of rain!
 And where the leaves brim over
  How fragrant is the lane!
 See, how the sodden acres,
 Forlorn of all their rakers,
 Their hay and harvest makers,
  Look green as spring again.

 Drops from the trumpet flowers
  Rain on us as we pass;
 And every zephyr showers,
  From tilted leaf or grass,
 Clear beads of moisture, seeming
 Pale, pointed emeralds gleaming;
 Where, through the green boughs streaming,
  The daylight strikes like glass.

_She speaks._

 How dewy, clean and fragrant
  Look now the green and gold!--
 And breezes trailing vagrant
  Spill all the spice they hold.
 The west begins to glimmer;
 And shadows, stretching slimmer,
 Crouch on the ways; and dimmer
  Grow field and forest old.

 Beyond those rainy reaches
  Of woodland, far and lone,
 A whippoorwill beseeches;
  And now an owl's vague moan
 Strikes faint upon the hearing.--
 These say the dusk is nearing.
 And, see, the heavens clearing
  Take on a tender tone.

 How feebly chirps the cricket!
  How thin the tree-toads cry!
 Blurred in the wild-rose thicket
  Gleams wet the firefly.--
 This way toward home is nearest;
 Of weeds and briars clearest....
 We'll meet to-morrow, dearest;
  Till then, dear heart, good-bye.


3

_They meet again under the greenwood tree. He speaks:_

 Here at last! And do you know
  That again you've kept me waiting?
  Wondering, anticipating,
 If your "yes" meant "no."

 Now you're here we'll have our day....
  Let us take this daisied hollow,
  And beneath these beeches follow
 This wild strip of way

 Towards the stream; wherein are seen
  Stealing gar and darting minnow;
  Over which snake-feeders winnow
 Wings of black and green.

 Like a cactus flames the sun;
  And the mighty weaver, Even,
  Tenuous colored, there in heaven,
 His rich weft's begun....

 How I love you! from the time--
  You remember, do you not?--
  When, within your orchard-plot,
 I was reading rhyme,

 As I told you. And 'twas thus--
  "By the blue Trinacrian sea,
  Far in pastoral Sicily
 With Theocritus"--

 That I answered you who asked.
  But the curious part was this:--
  That the whole thing was amiss;
 That the Greek but masked

 Tales of old Boccaccio--
  Tall Decameronian maids
  Strolled among Italian glades,
 Smiling, sweet and slow.

 And when you approached,--my book
  Dropped in wonder,--seemingly
  To myself I said, "'Tis she!"
 And arose to look

 In Lauretta's eyes and--true!
  Found them yours.--You shook your head,
  Laughing at me, as you said,
 "Did I frighten you?"

 You had come for cherries; these
  Dreamily I climbed for while
  You still questioned with a smile,
 And still tried to tease.

 Ah, love, just two years have gone
  Since then. I remember, you
  Wore a dress of billowy blue
 Muslin, or of lawn.

 And that apron still I see,--
  White, with cherry-juice red-stained,--
  Which you held; wherein I rained
 Ripeness from the tree.

 And I asked you--for, you know,
  To my eyes your serious eyes
  Spoke such sweet philosophies,--
 If you'd read Rousseau.

 You remember how a chance,
  Somewhat like to mine, one June
  Happened him at castle Toune,
 Over there in France?

 And a cherry dropping fair
  On your cheek I, envying it,
  Said--remembering Rousseau's wit--
 "Would my lips were there!"

 How you laughed and blushed, I know.--
  Here's the stream. The west has narrowed
  To a streak of gold, deep arrowed.--
 There's a skiff. Let's row.


4

_Entering the skiff, she speaks:_

 Waters, flowing dark and bright
  In the sunlight or the moon,
 Seize my soul with such delight
 As a visible music might;
  As some slow, majestic tune
 Made material to the sight.

 Blossoms colored like the skies,
  Sunset-hued and tame or wild,
 Fill my soul with such surmise
 As the mind might realize
  If our thoughts, all undefiled,
 Should take form before our eyes.

 So to me do these appeal;
  So they sway me every hour:
 Letting all their beauty steal
 On my soul to make it feel,
  Through a rivulet or flower,
 More than any words reveal.


5

_He speaks, rowing._

 See, sweetheart, how the lilies lay
 Their lambent leaves about our way;
 Or, pollen-dusty, nod and float
 Their moon-like flowers around our boat.--
 The middle of the stream we've reached
 Three strokes from where our boat was beached.

 Look up. You scarce can see the sky,
 Through trees that lean, dark, deep, and high;
 And coiled with grape and trailing vine
 Build a vast roof of shade and shine;
 A house of leaves, where shadows walk,
 And whispering winds and waters talk.

 There is no path. The saplings choke
 The trunks they spring from. There an oak
 Lies rotting; and that sycamore,
 Which lays its bulk from shore to shore,--
 Uprooted by the floods,--perchance,
 May be the bridge to some romance.

 Now opening through a willow fringe
 The waters creep, one tawny tinge
 Of sunset; and on either marge
 The cottonwoods make walls of shade;
 And, near, the gradual hills loom large
 Within its mirror. Herons wade,
 Or fly, like Faery birds, from grass
 That mats the shore by which we pass.

_She speaks._

 On we pass; we rippling pass,
 On sunset waters still as glass.
 A vesper-sparrow flies above
 Soft twittering to its woodland love.
 A whippoorwill now calls afar;
 And 'gainst the west, like some swift star,
 A glittering jay flies screaming. Slim
 The sand-snipes and king-fishers skim
 Before us; and some evening thrush--
 Who may discover where such sing?--
 The silence rinses with a gush
 Of mellow music bubbling.

_He speaks._

 On we pass.--Now let us oar
 To yonder strip of ragged shore,
 Where, from a rock with lichens hoar,
 A ferny spring wells. Gliding by
 The sulphur-colored firefly
 Lights its pale lamp where mallows gloom,
 And wild-bean and wild-mustard bloom.--
 Some hunter there within the woods
 Last fall encamped those ashes say
 And campfire boughs.--The solitudes
 Grow dreamy with the death of day.


6

_She sings._

 Over the fields of millet
 A young bird tries its wings;
 And sweet as a woodland rillet,
 Its first wild music rings--
 Soul of my soul, where the meadows roll
 What is the song it sings?

 "Love, and a glad good-morrow,
 Heart where the rapture is!
 Good-morrow, good-morrow!
 Adieu to sorrow!
 Here is the road to bliss:
 Where all day long you may hearken my song,
 And kiss, kiss, kiss!"

 Over the fields of clover,
 Where the wild bee drones and sways,
 The wind, like a shepherd lover,
 Flutes on the fragrant ways--
 Heart of my heart, where the blossoms part,
 What is the air he plays?

 "Love, and a song to follow,
 Soul with the face a-gleam!
 Come follow, come follow,
 O'er hill and o'er hollow,
 To the land o' the bloom and beam;
 Where under the flowers you may listen for hours,
 And dream, dream, dream!"


7

_He speaks, letting the boat drift._

 Here the shores are irised. Grasses
 Clump the water dark that glasses
 Broken wood and deepened distance.
 Far the musical persistence
 Of a field-lark lingers low
 In the west where tulips blow.

 White before us flames one pointed
 Star; and Day hath Night anointed
 King; from out her azure ewer
 Pouring starry fire, truer
 Than pure gold. Star-crowned he stands
 With the star-light in his hands.

 Will the moon bleach through the ragged
 Tree-tops ere we reach yon jagged
 Rock, that rises gradually,
 Pharos of our homeward valley?--
 All the west is smouldering red;
 Embers are the stars o'erhead.

 At my soul some Protean elf is;
 You're Simaetha; I am Delphis.
 You are Sappho and your Phaon,
 I.--We love.--There lies a ray on
 All the Dark