More Songs from Vagabondia

by Bliss Carman and Richard Hovey


 

JUNE NIGHT IN WASHINGTON


 

THE scent of honeysuckle,
Drugging the twilight
With its sweet opiate of lovers’ dreams!
The last red glow of the setting sun
On the red brick wall
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Of the neighboring house,
And the scramble of red roses over it!

Slowly, slowly
The night smokes up from the city to the stars,
The faint foreshadowed stars;

10
The smouldering night
Breathes upward like the breath
Of a woman asleep
With dim breasts rising and falling
And a smile of delicate dreams.
15

Softly, softly
The wind comes into the garden,
Like a lover that fears lest he waken his love,
And his hands drip with the scent of the roses
And his locks weep with the opiate odor of honeysuckle.
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Sighing, sighing
As a lover that yearns for the lips of his love,
In a torment of bliss,
In a passionate dreaming of bliss,
The wind in the trees of the garden!
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How intimate are the trees,—
Rustling like the secret darkness of the soul!
How still is the starlight,—
Aloof in the placidity of dream!

Outside the garden

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A group of negroes passing in the street
Sing with ripe lush voices,
Sing with voices that swim
Like great slow gliding fishes
Through the scent of the honeysuckle:
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My love’s waitin’,
Waitin’ by the river,
Waitin’ till I come along!
Wait there, child; I’m comin’.

Jay-bird tol’ me,

40
Tol’ me in the mornin’,
Tol’ me she’d be there to-night.
Wait there, child; I’m comin’.

Waves of dream!
Spell of the summer night!

45
Will of the grass that stirs in its sleep!
Desire of the honeysuckle!
And further away,
Like the plash of far-off waves in the fluid night,
The negroes, singing:
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Whip-po’-will tol’ me,
Tol’ me in the evenin’,
"Down by the bend where the cat-tails grow."
Wait there, child; I’m comin’.

Lo, the moon,

55
Like a galleon sailing the night;
And the wash of the moonlight over the roofs and the trees!

Oh, my bride,
Come down from yonder lattice where you bide
Like a charmed princess in a Persian song!

60
I look up at your yellow window-panes
Set in the night with far-off wizardry.
Come down, come down; the night is fain of you,
The garden waits your footstep on its walks.

Lo, the moon,

65
Like a galleon sailing the night;
And the wash of the moonlight over the red brick wall and the roses!

A gleam of lamplight through an open door!
A footfall like the wind’s upon the grass!
A rustle like the wind’s among the leaves! . . .

70
Dim as a dream of pale peach blooms of light,
Blue in the blue soft pallor of the moon,
She comes between the trees as a faint tune
Falls from a flute far off into the night. . . .
So Death might come to one who knew him Love.