Last Songs from Vagabondia

by Bliss Carman and Richard Hovey


 

A PRELUDE


 

THIS is the sound of the Word
From the waters of sleep,
The rain-soft voice that was heard
On the face of the deep,
When the fog was drawn back like a veil, and the sentinel tides
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Were given their thresholds to keep.

The South Wind said, "Come forth,"
And the West Wind said, "Go far!"
And the silvery sea-folk heard,
Where their weed tents are,

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From the long slow lift of the blue through the Carib keys,
To the thresh on Sable bar.

This is the Word that went by,
Over sun-land and swale,
The long Aprilian cry,

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Clear, joyous, and hale,
When the summons went forth to the wild shy broods of the air,
To bid them once more to the trail.

The South Wind said, "Come forth,"
And the West Wind said, "Be swift!"

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And the fluttering sky-folk heard,
And the warm dark thrift
Of the nomad blood revived, and they gathered for flight,
By column and pair and drift.

This is the sound of the Word

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From bud-sheath and blade,
When the reeds and the grasses conferred,
And a gold beam was laid
At the taciturn doors of the forest, where tarried the Sun,
For a sign they should not be dismayed.
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The South Wind said, "Come forth,"
And the West Wind said, "Be glad!"
The abiding wood-folk heard,
In their new green clad,
Sanguine, mist-silver, and rose, while the sap in their veins
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Welled up as of old all unsad.

This is the Word that flew
Over snow-marsh and glen,
When the frost-bound slumberers knew,
In tree-trunk and den,

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Their bidding had come, they questioned not whence nor why,—
They reckoned not whither nor when.

The South Wind said, "Come forth,"
And the West Wind said, "Be wise!"
The wintering ground-folk heard,

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Put the dark from their eyes,
Put the sloth from sinew and thew, to wander and dare,—
Forever the old surmise!

This is the Word that came
To the spirit of Man,

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And shook his soul like a flame
In the breath of a fan,
Till it burned as a light in his eyes, as a colour that grew
And prospered under the tan.

The South Wind said, "Come forth,"

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And the West Wind said, "Be free!"
Then he rose and put on the new garb,
And knew he should be
The master of knowledge and joy, though sprung from the tribes
Of the earth and the air and the sea.
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