More Songs from Vagabondia

by Bliss Carman and Richard Hovey


 

QUINCE TO LILAC: TO G.H.


 

DEAR Lilac, how enchanting
To hear of you this way!
The Man who comes a-mouching
To visit me each day

Says you too have a lover

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Far lovelier than I.
And from his rapt description,
She loves you gloriously.

The Man prowls out each morning
To see if spring’s begun.

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What infinite amusement
These creatures offer one!

He asks me such conundrums
As no one ever heard:
The name of April’s father,

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The trail of every bird,

What keeps me warm in winter,
Who wakes me up in time,
And why procrastination
Is such a fearful crime.

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And yet, who knows? He may be
Our equal ages hence—
With such pathetic glimmers
Of weird intelligence!

But this your blessed alien,

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Why strays she roving here?
Was Orpheus not her brother,
Persephone her peer?

Was she not once a dryad
Whom Syrinx lulled to sleep

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Beside the Dorian water,
And still her eyelids keep

The glad unperished secret
From centuries of joy,
And memories of the morning

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When Helen sailed for Troy?

Is her name Gertrude, Kitty,
Hypatia, or what?
I seem to half remember,
And yet have quite forgot.

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That soft Hellenic laughter!
I marvel you don’t make
An effort to be early
In budding for her sake.

Just fancy hearing daily

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That velvet voice of hers!
How do you quell the riot
Of sap her coming stirs?

Perhaps she puts her face up,
(Dear Charity she is!)

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For messages of summer
And better worlds than this.

You cannot blush, poor Lilac;
It is not in your race.
I simply should go crimson,

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If I were in your place.

Do tell her all your secrets!
The Man declares she knows
Better than any mortal
The wonder-trick of prose.

60

Our prose, I mean,—how beauty
Appears to you and me;
The truth that seems so simple,
Which they call poetry.

They put it down in writing

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And label it with tags,
The funny conscious people
Who mask in colored rags!

They have a thing called science,
With phrases strange and pat.

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My dear, can you imagine
Intelligence like that?

And when they first discover
That yellows are not greens,
They pucker up their foreheads

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And ponder what it means.

And then those cave-like places,
Churches and Capitols,
Where they all come together
Like troops of talking dolls,

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To govern, as they term it,
(It’s really very odd!)
And have what they call worship
Of something they call God.

But Kitty, or whatever

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May be her tender name,
Is more like us. She guesses
What sets the year aflame.

She knows beyond her senses;
Do tell her all you can!

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The funny people need it,—
At least, so says The Man.

Good-by, dear. I must idle.
Sweet suns and happy rains!
How nice to have these humans

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With their inventive brains,—

Their little scraps of paper!
They certainly evince
Remarkable discernment.
Your ever loving Quince.

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