More Songs from Vagabondia

by Bliss Carman and Richard Hovey


 

AT MICHAELMAS


 

ABOUT the time of Michael’s feast
And all his angels,
There comes a word to man and beast
By dark evangels.

Then hearing what the wild things say

5
To one another,
Those creatures first born of our gray
Mysterious Mother,

The greatness of the world’s unrest
Steals through our pulses;

10
Our own life takes a meaning guessed
From the torn dulse’s.

The draft and set of deep sea-tides
Swirling and flowing,
Bears every filmy flake that rides,

15
Grandly unknowing.

The sunlight listens; thin and fine
The crickets whistle;
And floating midges fill the shine
Like a seeding thistle.

20

The hawkbit flies his golden flag
From rocky pasture,
Bidding his legions never lag
Through morning’s vasture.

Soon we shall see the red vines ramp

25
Through forest borders,
And Indian summer breaking camp
To silent orders.

The glossy chestnuts swell and burst
Their prickly houses

30
Agog at news which reached them first
In sap’s carouses.

The long noons turn the ribstons red,
The pippins yellow;
The wild duck from his reedy bed

35
Summons his fellow.

The robins keep the underbrush
Songless and wary,
As though they feared some frostier hush
Might bid them tarry;

40
Perhaps in the great North they heard
Of silence falling
Upon the world without a word,
White and appalling.

The ash-tree and the lady-fern,

45
In russet frondage,
Proclaim ’t is time for our return
To vagabondage.

All summer idle have we kept;
But on a morning,

50
Where the blue hazy mountains slept,
A scarlet warning

Disturbs our day-dream with a start;
A leaf turns over;
And every earthling is at heart

55
Once more a rover.

All winter we shall toil and plod,
Eating and drinking;
But now’s the little time when God
Sets folk to thinking.

60
"Consider," says the quiet sun,
"How far I wander;
Yet when had I not time on one
More flower to squander?"

"Consider," says the restless tide,

65
"My endless labor;
Yet when was I content beside
My nearest neighbor?"

So wander-lust to wander-lure,
As seed to season,

70
Must rise and wend, possessed and sure
In sweet unreason.

For doorstone and repose are good,
And kind is duty;
But joy is in the solitude

75
With shy-heart beauty.

And Truth is one whose ways are meek
Beyond foretelling;
And far his journey who would seek
Her lowly dwelling.

80
She leads him by a thousand heights,
Lonelily faring,
With sunrise and with eagle flights
To mate his daring.

For her he fronts a vaster fog

85
Than Leif of yore did,
Voyaging for continents no log
Has yet recorded.

He travels by a polar star,
Now bright, now hidden,

90
For a free land, though rest be far
And roads forbidden,

Till on a day with sweet coarse bread
And wine she stays him,
Then in a cool and narrow bed

95
To slumber lays him.

So we are hers. And, fellows mine
Of fin and feather,
By shady wood and shadowy brine,
When comes the weather

100
For migrants to be moving on,
By lost indenture
You flock and gather and are gone:
The old adventure!

I too have my unwritten date,

105
My gypsy presage;
And on the brink of fall I wait
The darkling message.

The sign, from prying eyes concealed,
Is yet how flagrant!

110
Here’s ragged-robin in the field,
A simple vagrant.