Echoes from Vagabondia

by Bliss Carman




WHILE the slow-filtered sorcery
Of Indian summer lay
Upon the golden-shadowed streets
Of Concord yesterday,
We climbed the rocky path that led
Through hallowed air all still,
Where Concord men first laid their dead
To rest on Burial Hill.

Her sages and her poets lie
In Sleepy Hollow ground;

But here, unvisited, apart,
Her good men unrenowned, —
Those vanished folk who greatly did,
Because they greatly planned.
Here in the slanting mellow sun
Their sinking headstones stand.

Close to the stone-walled village street
It rises in deep shade, —
This cherished place about whose base
Their first homesteads were made.

Here the first smoke rose from the hearth
To cheer them, great of soul;
And here for all the world to see
They set their Liberty Pole.

O little, blessed, lonely plot

Of our ancestral earth,
What dreams are here as we draw near
The dust that gave us birth!
Out of the ancient mighty dark
These Pilgrims not in vain
Proclaimed the good they saw, then turned
To dust and dreams again.

O never say their dreams are dead,
Since West and South and North
They sent their breed to prove their creed

In verity and worth.
Across the conquered leagues that lie
Beneath their dauntless will,
From tent and shack the trails run back
To the foot of Burial Hill.

Slowly we mount the wooded crest,
And there in golden gloom
Stands simple, square, and unadorned,
Our grandsire’s altar tomb.
Upon its dark gray slated top
The long inscription reads,
In stately phrase his townsmen’s praise
Of his deserts and deeds.

Their “pastor of the Church of Christ,”
They wish the world to feel

The “luster” of his ministry,
His “meekness” and his “zeal.”
I doubt not he deserved it all,
And not a word of ill;
For they were just, these men whose dust
Lies here on Burial Hill.

Perhaps we wear the very guise
And features that he wore,
And with the look of his own eyes
Behold his world once more.

Would that his spirit too might live
While lives his goodly name,
To move among the sons of men,
“A minister of flame.”

So might his magic gift of words,

Not wholly passed away,
Survive to be a sorcery
In all men’s hearts to-day,
To plead no less for loveliness
Than truth and goodness still.
God rest you, sir, his minister,
Asleep on Burial Hill!