Last Songs from Vagabondia

by Bliss Carman and Richard Hovey


 

PHILIP SAVAGE


 

FIELDS by Massachusetts Bay,
Where is he who yesterday

Called you Home, and loved to go
Where the cherry spreads her snow,

Through the purple misty woods

5
Of your soft spring solitudes,

Listening for the first fine gush
Of his fellow, the shy thrush—

Hearkening some diviner tone
Than our ears have ever known?

10

Woodland-musing by the hour
When the locust comes in flower,

He would watch by hill and swamp
Every sign of her green pomp

Where your matchless June once more

15
Leads her pageant up the shore.

Slopes of bayberry and fern,
While you wait for his return,

Can it be that he would test
Some far region of the West,

20

Tracking some great river course
To its undiscovered source?

Or an idler would he be
In the Islands of the Sea?

Can it be that he is gone,

25
Like so many a roving one,

The dread Arctic to explore,
Never to be heard of more—

Or with those who sail away
Every year from Gloucester Bay

30

For the Banks, and do not come
When the fishing fleets come home?

Stony uplands where the quail
Whistles by the pasture rail,

Where is one to whom you lent

35
Of your wise serene content,

Minstrel of your pagan psalm
With an Emersonian calm?

Open fields along the sea,
’T was your sweet sincerity

40

Made him what his fellows knew,
Sober, gentle, sane and true.

Whippoorwill and oriole,
He had your untarnished soul;

He your steadfast brother was,

45
Lowly field-bird of the grass.

Shores of Massachusetts Bay,
Teach us only in our day

Half as well your face to love
And your loving kindness prove.

50

Now the wind he loved so well
Makes the dune grass rock and swell,

And the marshy acres run
White with charlock in the sun,

Should he not be here to see

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All your brave felicity!

Through these orchards green and dim,
Whose old calm was good to him,

Let the tiny yellow birds
Still repeat their shining words,

60

While across our senses steal
Hints of things no words reveal.

Let the air he used to know
From the iris meadows blow,

At evening through the open door

65
With the cool scents of the shore,

While across our spirits sweep
Sea-turns from a vaster deep.

Sunlit fields, how gently now
Your white daisies nod and bow,

70

Where the soft wind and the sun
Grieve not for a mortal one!

Only the old sea the more
Seems to whisper and deplore,

Murmuring like a childless crone

75
With her sorrow left alone—

The eternal human cry
To the heedless passer by.

Marshes, while your channels fill
And the June birds have their will,

80

While the elms along your edge
Wave above the rusty sedge,

And the bobolinks day long
Ply their juggleries of song,

While the sailing ships go by

85
To their ports below the sky,

Still the old Thalassian blue
Bounds this lovely world for you,

And the lost horizon lies
Past your wonder or surmise.

90

Fields by Massachusetts Bay,
When your questioner shall say,

"Where is he who should have been
Poet of your lovely mien,

And your soul’s interpreter?"

95
Answer, every larch and fir,

"He was here, but he is gone.
Some high purpose not his own

Summoned his unwasted powers
From our common woods and flowers.

100

All too soon from our abode
Back he wended to the road,

Rich in love, if not in fame.
Philip Savage was his name."