Last Songs from Vagabondia

by Bliss Carman and Richard Hovey




I CAME to a deserted inn,
Standing apart, alone;
A place where human joy had been,
And only winds made moan.

I entered by the spacious hall,

With not a soul to see;
The echo of my own footfall
Was ghostly there to me.

I came upon a sudden door,
Which gave me no reply;

The more I questioned it, the more
A questioner was I.

I lingered by the mouldy stair,
And by the dusty sill;
And when my faint heart said, "Beware!"

The silence said, "Be still!"

From room to room I caught the stir
Of garments vanishing,—
The stillness trying to demur,
When one has ceased to sing.


Like shadows of the clouds which make
The loneliness of noon,
The thing I could not overtake
Was but an instant gone.

’T was summer when I reached the inn;

The apples were in bloom;
Before I left, the snow drove in,
The frost was like a doom.

At last I came upon the book
Where visitors of yore

Had writ their names, ere joy forsook
The House of Rest-no-more.

Poor fellow-travellers, beset
With hungers not of earth!
Did you, too, tarry here in debt

For things of perished worth?

Did something lure you like a strain
Of music wild and vast,
Only to freeze your blood again
With jeers when you had passed?


Did visions of a fairer thing
Than God has ever made
Fleet through your doorways in the spring,
And would not be delayed?

Did beauty in a half-made song,

A smile of mystery,
Departing, leave you here to long
For what could never be,—

And thenceforth you were friends of peace,
Acquainted with unrest,

Whom no perfection could release
From the unworldly quest?

I heard a sound of women’s tears,
More desolate than the sea,
Sigh through the chambers of the years

Unto eternity.

And then beyond the fathom of sense
I knew, as the dead know,
My lost ideal had journeyed thence
Unnumbered years ago.


And from that dwelling of the night,
With the gray dusk astir,
I waited for the first gold light
To let me forth to Her.