Low Tide on Grand Pré: A Book of Lyrics

by Bliss Carman


 

THE END OF THE TRAIL


 

ONCE more the hunters of the dusk
     Are forth to search the moorlands wide,
Among the autumn-colored hills,
     And wander by the shifting tide.

All day along the haze-hung verge

5
     They scour upon a fleeing trace,
Between the red sun and the sea,
     Where haunts the vision of your face.

The plane at Martock lies and drinks
     The long Septembral gaze of blue;

10
The royal leisure of the hills
     Hath wayward reveries of you.

Far rovers of the ancient dream
     Have all their will of musing hours:
Your eyes were gray-deep as the sea,

15
     Your hands lay open in the flowers!

From mining Rawdon to Pereau,
     For all the gold they delve and share,
The goblins of the Ardise hills
     Can horde no treasure like your hair.

20

The swirling tide, the lonely gulls,
     The sweet low wood-winds that rejoice—
No sound nor echo of the sea
     But hath tradition of your voice.

The crimson leaves, the yellow fruit,

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     The basking woodlands mile on mile—
No gleam in all the russet hills
     But wears the solace of your smile.

A thousand cattle rove and feed
     On the great marshes in the sun,

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And wonder at the restless sea;
     But I am glad the year is done,

Because I am a wanderer
     Upon the roads of endless quest,
Between the hill-wind and the hills,

35
     Along the margin men call rest.

Because there lies upon my lips
     A whisper of the wind at morn,
A murmur of the rolling sea
     Cradling the land where I was born;

40

Because its sleepless tides and storms
     Are in my heart for memory
And music, and its gray-green hills
     Run white to bear me company;

Because in that sad time of year,

45
     With April twilight on the earth
And journeying rain upon the sea,
     With the shy windflowers was my birth;

Because I was a tiny boy
     Among the thrushes of the wood,

50
And all the rivers in the hills
     Were playmates of my solitude;

Because the holy winter night
     Was for my chamber, deep among
The dark pine forests by the sea,

55
     With woven red auroras hung,

Silent with frost and floored with snow,
     With what dream folk to people it
And bring their stories form the hills,
     When all the splendid stars were lit;

60

Therefore I house me not with kin,
     But journey as the sun goes forth,
By stream and wood and marsh and sea,
     Through dying summers of the North;

Until, some hazy autumn day,

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     With yellow evening in the skies
And rime upon the tawny hills,
     The far blue signal smoke shall rise,

To tell my scouting foresters
     Have heard the clarions of rest

70
Bugling, along the outer sea,
     The end of failure and of quest.

Then all the piping Nixie folk,
     Where lonesome meadow winds are low,
Through all the valleys in the hills

75
     Their river reeds shall blow and blow,

To lead me like a joy, as when
     The shining April flowers return,
Back to a footpath by the sea
     With scarlet hip and ruined fern.

80

For I must gain, ere the long night
     Bury its travelers deep with snow,
That trail among the Ardise hills
     Where first I found you years ago.

I shall not fail, for I am strong,

85
     And Time is very old, they say,
And somewhere by the quiet sea
     Makes no refusal to delay.

There will I get me home, and there
     Lift up your face in my brown hand,

90
With all the rosy rusted hills
     About the heart of that dear land.