Songs from a Northern Garden

by Bliss Carman


 

OUR LADY OF THE RAIN


 

Across the purple valleys, 
Along the misty hills, 
By murmur-haunted rivers 
And silver-gurgling rills, 
By woodland, swamp and barren, 
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By road and field and plain,
Arrives the Green Enchantress,
Our Lady of the Rain.

Her pure and mystic planet 
Is lighted in the west; 

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In ashy-rose and lilac
Of melting evening dressed,
With golden threads of sunset 
Inwoven in her gown,
With glamour of the springtime
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She has bewitched the town.

Her look is soft with dreaming 
On old forgotten years; 
Her eyes are grave and tender 
With unpermitted tears;

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For she has known the sorrows 
Of all this weary earth,
Yet ever brings it gladness,
Retrieval and new birth.

And when her splendid pageant,

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Sidereal and slow, 
With teeming stir and import 
Sweeps up from line to snow, 
There's not an eager mortal 
But would arise and make
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Some brave unpromised venture
For her immortal sake.

For no man knows what power 
Is sleeping in the seed, 
What destiny may slumber

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Within the smallest deed. 
In calm no fret can hurry,Nor any fear detain, 
She brings our own to meet us— 
Our Lady of the Rain.
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She saw the red clay moulded
And quickened into man; 
The sweetness of her spirit
Within his pulses ran; 
The ardour of her being 
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Was in his veins like fire, 
The unreluctant passion, 
The unallayed desire.

'Twas she who brought rejoicing
To Babylon and Ur.

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To Carthage and to Sidon 
Men came to worship her. 
Her soft spring rites were honoured 
At Argolis and Troy,
And dark Caldean women 
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Gave thanks to her for joy.

With cheer and exaltation 
With hope for all things born, 
To hearten the disheartened, 
To solace the forlorn,

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Too gentle and all-seeing 
For judgment or disdain, 
She comes with loving kindness—
Our Lady of the Rain.

With magical resurgence 

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For all the sons of men 
She crosses winter's frontier, 
They know not whence nor when.
Yet silently as sunlight 
Along the forest floor 
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Her step is on the threshold, 
Her shadow at the door.

On many a lonely clearing 
Among the timbered hills 
She calls across the distance, 

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Until the twilight fills 
With voice of loosened waters, 
And from the marshy ground 
The frogs begin refilling 
Their flutes with joyous sound.
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Then note by note is lifted
The chorus clear and shrill,
And all who hear her summons
Must answer to her will;
For she will not abandon
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The old Pandean strain
That called the world from chaos—
Our Lady of the Rain.

And still her wondrous music
Comes up with early spring, 

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And meadowland and woodland 
With silver wildness ring; 
The sparrow by the roadside, 
The wind among the reeds, 
Whoever hears that piping 
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Must follow where it leads.

Though no man knows the reason, 
Nor how the rumour spread, 
Through canyon-streeted cities
Her message has been sped;

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And some forgotten longing 
To hear a bluebird sing 
Bids folk from open windows 
Look forth—and it is spring.

Come out into the sunshine, 

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You dwellers of the town, 
Put by your anxious dolors, 
And cast your sorrows down. 
O, starved and pampered people, 
How futile is your gain! 
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Behold, there comes to heal you 
Our Lady of the Rain.

Go where the buds are breaking
Upon the cherry bough, 
And the strong sap is mounting 

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In every tree-trunk now; 
Where orchards are in blossom 
On every spray and spire, 
Go hear the orioles whistle 
And pass like flecks of fire.
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Go find the first arbutus
Within the piney wood,
And learn from that shy dweller
How sweet is solitude; 
Go listen to the white-throat
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In some remote ravine 
Rehearse in tranquil patience 
His ecstasy serene.

Go down along the beaches 
And borders of the sea,

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When golden morning kindles 
That blue immensity, 
And watch the white sails settle 
Below the curving rim
Of this frail vast of colour,
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Diaphanous and dim.

Go watch by brimming river
Or reedy-marged lagoon
The wild geese row their galley
Across the rising moon,

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That comes up like a bubble
Out of the black fir-trees, 
And ask what mind invented 
Such miracles as these.

Who came when we were sleeping

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And wrought this deathless lure,
This vivid vernal wonder
Improbable and sure? 
Where Algol and Bootes 
Mark their enormous range, 
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What seraph passed in power 
To touch the world with change?

What love's unerring purpose
Reveals itself anew
In these mysterious transports

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Of tone and shape and hue?
Doubt not the selfsame impulse
Throbs in thy restless side,
Craves at the gates of being,
And would not be denied.
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Be thou the west wind's brother, 
And kin to bird and tree, 
The soul of spring may utter 
Her oracles to thee; 
Her breath shall give thee courage,
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Her tan shall touch thy cheek, 
The words of sainted lovers 
Be given thee to speak.

Fear not the mighty instinct,
The great Aprilian Creed; 

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The House of Spring is open 
And furnished for thy need. 
But fear the little wisdom, 
The paltry doubt and vain, 
And trust without misgiving 
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Our Lady of the Rain.

What foot would fail to meet her,
And who would stay indoor, 
When April in her glory 
Comes triumphing once more— 

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When adder-tongue and tulip 
Put on their coats of gold, 
And all the world goes love-mad 
For beauty as of old?

At every year's returning 

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The swallows will be here, 
The stalls be gay with jonquils, 
The dogwood reappear; 
And up from the southwestward 
Come back to us again 
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With sorceries of gladness— 
Our Lady of the Rain.