From the Green Book of the Bards

by Bliss Carman


 

PICTOR IGNOTUS


 

He is a silent second self
Who travels with me in the road;
I share his lean-to in the hills,
He shares my modest town abode.

Under the roof-tree of the world

5

We keep the gipsy calendar,
As the revolving seasons rise
Above the tree-tops, star by star.

We watch the arctic days burn down
Upon the hearthstone of the sun,

10

And on the frozen river floors
The whispering snows awake and run.

Then in the still, portentous cold
Of a blue twilight, deep and large,
We see the northern bonfires lit

15

Along the world's abysmal marge.

He watches, with a love untired,
The white sea-combers race to shore
Below the mossers' purple huts,
When April goes from door to door.

20


He haunts the mountain trails that wind
To sudden outlooks from grey crags,
When marches up the blue ravine
September with her crimson flags.

The wonder of an ancient awe

25

Takes hold upon him when he sees
In the cold autumn dusk arise
Orion and the Pleiades;

Or when along the southern rim
Of the mysterious summer night

30

He marks, above the sleeping world,
Antares with his scarlet light.

The creamy shadow-fretted streets
Of some small Caribbean town,
Where through the soft wash of the trades

35

The brassy tropic moon looks down;

The palm-trees whispering to the blue
That surfs along the coral key;
The brilliant shining droves that fleet
Through the bright gardens of the sea.

40


The crimson-bored Floridian pines
Glaring in sunset, where they stand
Lifting their sparse, monotonous lines
Out of the pink and purple sand;

The racing Fundy tides that brim

45

The level dikes; the orchards there;
And the slow cattle moving through
That marvellous Acadian air;

The city of the flowery squares,
With the Potomac by her door;

50

The monument that takes the light
Of evening by the river shore;

The city of the Gothic arch,
That overlooks a wide green plain
From her grey churches, and beholds

55

The silver ribbon of the Seine;

The Indian in his birch canoe,
The flower-seller in Cheapside;
Wherever in the wide round world
The Likeness and the Word abide;

60


He scans and loves the human book,
With that reserved and tranquil eye
That watched among the autumn hills
The golden leisured pomp go by.

What wonder, since with lavish hand

65
Kind earth has given him her all
Of love and beauty, he should be
A smiling, thriftless prodigal!