Last Songs from Vagabondia

by Bliss Carman and Richard Hovey



For A Design By Ethel Reed


WITH her head in the golden lilies,
She reads and is never done.
Why her girlish face so still is,
I know not under the sun.

She is the soul of a woman,

Knowing whatever befalls;
And I a lonely human,
Dwelling within her walls.

She is the fair immortal
Daughter of truth and art;

And I, at her lowly portal,
May fare and be glad and depart.

In a region forever vernal,
She keeps her lilied state,—
My beautiful calm eternal

Mysteriarch of fate.

In a volume great and golden,
Would better beseem a sage,
Her downcast look is holden;
But I cannot see the page.


Picture, or printed column,
Or records, or cipherings,—
From the drooping lids so solemn
I guess at marvellous things.

Is it a rune she ponders,—

Word from an outer clime,
Where the spirit quests and wanders
Through long sidereal time?

Would she trammel her heart, or cumber
Her mind with our mortal needs?

Do the shadows quake and slumber
On the book wherein she reads?

I know not. I know her being
Is impulse and mood to mine,
Till I voyage, without foreseeing

For a lost horizon line.

For her the spacious morrow;
But the humble day for me,
In the little house of sorrow
By the unbefriending sea.


Her hair is a raven glory;
Her chin is pointed and small;
What is the wonderful story
Keeps her forever in thrall?

Her mouth is little and childly;

Her brow is innocent broad;
Meekly she reads and mildly,—
Would neither condemn nor applaud.

Would that I too, a-reading,
Might half of her wisdom find,

In the gold flowers there unheeding,—
The calm of an open mind!

Day long, as I keep the homely
Round of my chambers here,
Her beauty is modest and comely,

Her presence living and near.

Till it seems I must recover
A day in the ilex grove,
Where I was a destined lover,
And she was destined for love.


I remember the woods we strayed in,
And the mountain paths we trod,
When she was a Doric maiden,
And I was a young Greek god.

And I have the haunting fancy,

The moment my back is turned,
By some Eastern necromancy
Only the artists have learned,

Two great grave eyes are lifted
To follow me round the room,

And a sudden breath has shifted
A leaf in the Book of Doom.