More Songs from Vagabondia

by Bliss Carman and Richard Hovey




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

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.

What infinite amusement
These creatures offer one!

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

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.


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

But this your blessed alien,

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

Was she not once a dryad
Whom Syrinx lulled to sleep

Beside the Dorian water,
And still her eyelids keep

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

When Helen sailed for Troy?

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


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

Just fancy hearing daily

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!)

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,

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.


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

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.

My dear, can you imagine
Intelligence like that?

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

And ponder what it means.

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


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

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!

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

With their inventive brains,—

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