From the Book of Valentines

by Bliss Carman


 

THE LOVE-CHANT OF KING HACKO


 

In the time of red October, 
In the hills of the pointed fir, 
In the days of the slanted sunlight 
That ripens cone and burr, 
God gave me a splendid woman— 
5
A mate for a lord of lands— 
And put the madness on me,
And left her there in my hands.

In the roving woodland season,
When the afternoons are still

10
And the sound of lowing cattle
Comes up to the purple hill,
God would speak to His creatures,
Flower and beast and bird, 
And lays the silence upon them 
15

To hearken to His word.

In the time of the scarlet maple,
When the blue Indian haze 
Walks through the wooded valley 
And sleeps by the mountain ways, 

20
She stood like a beech in the forest,
Where the wash of sunlight lies,
With her wonderful beech-red hair
And her wondering beech-gray eyes.

In the time of the apple harvest, 

25
When the fruit is gold on the bough, 
She stood in the moted sunshine, 
The orchards remember how— 
Loving, untrammelled and generous, 
Ardent and supple and tall,
30

Quick to the breath of the spirit 
As a shadow that moves on a wall.

In a yellow and crimson valley, 
At the time of the turning leaf, 
When warm are the tawny fern-beds,

35
And the cricket's life is brief, 
I saw the dark blood mantle 
And prosper under the tan, 
Then I knew the power God lent me
To use, when He made me man.
40

The world, all being and beauty
From meadow to mountain-line,
Awaiting the touch of rapture
For a meaning and a sign;
A woman's voice said, "Hacko,"
45

Then I knew and could understand
How love is a greater province
Than dominion of sea or land.

In the month of golden hillsides,
When moons are frosty white,

50
And the returning Hunter
Looms on the marge of night,
Relieving his brother Arcturus,
Belted, majestic and slow,
To patrol the Arctic watch-fires
55
And sentry the lands of snow,

A core of fire was kindled 
On a hearthstone wide and deep, 
Where the great arms of the mountains 
Put Folly-of-mind to sleep; 

60
We came without guide or knowledge, 
Silver, array or store,
Through the land of purple twilight 
To the lodge of the Open Door.