From the Green Book of the Bards

by Bliss Carman




To-day when the birches are yellow,
And red is the wayfaring tree,
Sit down in the sun, my soul,
And talk of yourself to me!

Here where the old blue rocks


Bask in the forest shine,
Dappled with shade and lost
In their reverie divine.

How goodly and sage they are!
Priests of the taciturn smile


Rebuking our babble and haste,
Yet loving us all the while.

In the asters the wild gold bees
Make a warm busy drone,
Where our Mother at Autumn's door


Sits warming her through to the bone.

The filmy gossamer threads
Are hung from the black fir bough,
Changing from purple to green—
The half-shut eye knows how.


What is your afterthought
When a red leaf rustles down,
Or the chickadees from the hush
Challenge a brief renown?

When silence falls again


Asleep on hillside and crest,
Resuming her ancient mood,
Do you still say, "Life is best?"

Was this reticence of yours
By the terms of being imposed?


One would say that you dwelt
With shutters always closed.

We have been friends so long,
And yet not a single word
Of yourself, your kith or kin


Or home, have I ever heard.

Nightly we sup and part,
Daily you come to my door;
Strange we should be such mates,
Yet never have talked before.


A cousin to downy-feather,
And brother to shining-fin,
Am I, of the breed of earth,
And yet of an alien kin,

Made from the dust of the road


And a measure of silver rain,
To follow you brave and glad,
Unmindful of plaudit or pain.

Dear to the mighty heart,
Born of her finest mood,


Great with the impulse of joy,
With the rapture of life imbued,

Radiant moments are yours,
Glimmerings over the verge
Of a country where one day


Our forest trail shall emerge.

When the road winds under a ledge,
You keep the trudging pace,
Till it mounts a shoulder of hill
To the open sun and space.


Ah, then you dance and go,
Illumined spirit again,
Child of the foreign tongue
And the dark wilding strain!

In these October days


Have you glimpses hid from me
Of old-time splendid state
In a kingdom by the sea?

Is it for that you smile,
Indifferent to fate and fame,


Enduring this nomad life
Contented without a name?

Through the long winter dark,
When slumber is at my sill,
Will you leave me dreamfast there,


For your journey over the hill?

To-night when the forest trees
Gleam in the frosty air,
And over the roofs of men
Stillness is everywhere,


By the cold hunter's moon
What trail will you take alone,
Through the white realms of sleep
To your native land unknown?

Here while the birches are yellow,

And red is the wayfaring tree,
Sit down in the sun, my soul,
And talk of yourself to me.