Last Songs from Vagabondia

by Bliss Carman and Richard Hovey


 

ROMANY SIGNS

On the publication of "Patrins," by Louise Imogen Guiney.


 

IF I should wander out some afternoon
About the end of May or early June,
And at a crossroads in the hills discover
A spray of apple or a sprig of clover,

Set for a sign to tell who went that way,

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Which road he took and how he fared that day,
"Ho, ho," I’d whistle, "here’s a gipsy token,
As plain as if the very word were spoken."

Then down I turn, hot foot, and off I trudge
Hard on his trail, while sceptics mutter, "Fudge!"

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They know the way, these travel-wise Egyptians,
And I—enough to follow their inscriptions.

So, bless you! in a mile or two at most,
I’ve overtaken, almost passed, my host
Camped in the finest grove in all the county

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And bidding me to supper on his bounty.

There’s nothing like a bit of open sky
To give a touch of poetry to pie;
And here’s a poem (call it Sphinx in Myrtle)
Would make an alderman forget his turtle.

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Now, there’s a Romany in Auburndale,
Wild as a faun and sound as cakes and ale,
One of the tribe of Stevenson and Borrow,
Who live to-day and let alone to-morrow.

(God keeps a few still living in the sun,—

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The man who wrote The Seven Seas, for one,
And Island Stoddard,—just to prove the folly
Of smug repose and pious melancholy.)

So when I see her signal in the hedge,
(I mean her new book on the counter’s edge,)

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"Ho, ho," say I, "that Guiney’s broken loose again,
Cut a new quill and put her craft to use again."

Enough for me! I’m off. And, fellows all,
Who could resist the Auburndalean call
To go a-foraging? That’s what the spring’s for,

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What bards have wits and bumblebees have wings for.

I’ll warrant here’s a road to Arcady
With goodly cheer and merry company,
Skirting the pleasant foot-hills of Philosophy,
Far from the quaggy marshes of Theosophy.

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O for the trail, wherever it may lead,
From small credulity to larger creed,
Till we behold this world without detraction
As God did seven times with satisfaction!