Echoes from Vagabondia

by Bliss Carman





IN the purple heat haze
Of long midsummer days
Lay the range, peak on peak,
Till one though, “Could they speak,
Those old ones who heard
The first life-bringing word!”

With the primal unrest
Locked away in their breast,
Unperturbed they await
The fulfillment of fate,
Seated there on the plain,

Like King Charlemagne
And his heroes who keep
The long council of sleep,
Until need and the hour
Shall recall them to power.

Once an age the King wakes.
“Is it time?” his voice breaks
The silence. “Nay, Sire.”
Then the echoes retire,
And sleep falls again
Gray and softer than rain.

Thus Mount Holyoke
Overheard, as he woke,
The yearn and the sigh,
Between Low and High,—


Toby speaking to Tom,
“Thy distance of blue
I can hardly see through
Proclaims the old story
Of possible glory,
The entrancement of rapture
Our utmost may capture,
Adventuring still
Led by vision and will, —
Thou truth’s Chrysostom!
The beauty and glamour
Above the world’s clamor
Are aglow with a thought
Urgent, mystic, untaught
Neither Christian nor Rom,
Of escape and of flight
To the spirit’s lone height,
Beyond the last verge
Of soul’s strife and surge,
The dominion past dream,
Where accord is supreme.
Undespairing and bold,
Through what cycles untold
Of calm, storm, sun and rain,
Soared thy life to attain
Its transcendence serene, —
That victorious mien
Over travail’s maelstrom!”

Then Tom said to Toby,
“In the farness divine

Each hue, every line,
Must inblend and suspire
With the tone of desire,
Till all flaws be recast
To perfection at last.
Whether lofty or low be
Thy measure, what matters?
When blinding noon scatters,
And soul grows aware
Of a soul through the glare,
Convinced there must so be
A reach and a lift
Through the dusk’s purple rift,
To the large, fair, and new
Where ideals come true,
With no doubt of the end,
Let heart hold its trend.
Shall Potumcook disdain
The deep corn-bearing plain,
Through the slow-plowing years?
Thou art crowned with thy peers,
When over thy crest
The great sun from the West
Bids the glory and glow be.”

Then said Holyoke,

“It is well that you spoke
Low and High are as one,
When soul’s service is done!”

Peak on peak lay the range,
With no word to exchange,

Not a hint to break through
That soft stillness of blue, —
All as silent as when
God first whispered to men.

There like the great king

With his captains a-ring,
These councillors sleep.
Untroubled and deep
Is their rest. They abide
Heat and cold, time and tide;
Their supreme heritage,
To grow lovely with age.
How could they but dream true,
With their heads in the blue,
And their feet in the flow
Of the river where go
Mirrored stories of time?
While the world, out of chime
And unheeding, goes by,
They translate earth and sky,
These old mystics. Ah, theirs
Are eternal affairs!