From the Green Book of the Bards

by Bliss Carman


 

THE GREEN DANCERS


 

When the Green Dance of summer
Goes up the mountain clove,
There is another dancer
Who follows it for love.

To the sound of falling water,

5

Processional and slow
The children of the forest
With waving branches go;

And to the wilding music
Of winds that loiter by,

10

By trail, ravine and stream-bed,
Troop up against the sky.

The bending yellow birches,
The beeches cool and tall,
Slim ash and flowering locust,

15

My gipsy knows them all.

And light of foot she follows,
And light of heart gives heed,
Where in the blue-green chasm
The wraiths of mist are freed.

20


For when the young winged maples
Hang out their rosy pods,
She knows it is a message
From the primeval gods.

When tanager and cherry

25

Show scarlet in the sun,
She slips her careworn habit
To put their gladness on.

And where the chestnuts flower
Along the mountain-side,

30

She, too, assumes the vesture
And beauty of their pride.

She hears the freshening music
That ushers in their day,
When from the hemlock shadows

35

The silver thrushes play.

When the blue moth at noonday
Lies breathing with his wings,
She knows what piercing woodnote
Across the silence rings.

40


And when the winds of twilight
Flute up the ides of June,
Where Kaaterskill goes plainward
Under a virgin moon,

My wild mysterious spirit

45

For joy cannot be still,
But with the woodland dancers
Must worship as they will.

From rocky ledge to summit
Where lead the dark-tressed firs,

50

Under the open starshine
Their festival is hers.

She sees the moonlit laurel
Spread through the misty gloom
(The soul of the wild forest

55

Veiled in a mesh of bloom).

Then to the lulling murmur
Of leaves she, too, will rest,
Curtained by northern streamers
Upon some dark hill-crest.

60


And still, in glad procession
And solemn bright array,
A dance of gold-green shadows
About her sleep will play;

Her signal from the frontier,

65
There is no bar nor toll
Nor dearth of joy forever
To stay the gipsy soul.