Songs from a Northern Garden

by Bliss Carman




Across the purple valleys, 
Along the misty hills, 
By murmur-haunted rivers 
And silver-gurgling rills, 
By woodland, swamp and barren, 
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; 

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

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

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,

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
Some brave unpromised venture
For her immortal sake.

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

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.

She saw the red clay moulded
And quickened into man; 
The sweetness of her spirit
Within his pulses ran; 
The ardour of her being 

Was in his veins like fire, 
The unreluctant passion, 
The unallayed desire.

'Twas she who brought rejoicing
To Babylon and Ur.

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

Gave thanks to her for joy.

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


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

With magical resurgence 

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 

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, 

Until the twilight fills 
With voice of loosened waters, 
And from the marshy ground 
The frogs begin refilling 
Their flutes with joyous sound.

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

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, 

And meadowland and woodland 
With silver wildness ring; 
The sparrow by the roadside, 
The wind among the reeds, 
Whoever hears that piping 

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;


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, 

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! 

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 

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.

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

In some remote ravine 
Rehearse in tranquil patience 
His ecstasy serene.

Go down along the beaches 
And borders of the sea,

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

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


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

And wrought this deathless lure,
This vivid vernal wonder
Improbable and sure? 
Where Algol and Bootes 
Mark their enormous range, 

What seraph passed in power 
To touch the world with change?

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

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.

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,

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; 

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 

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— 


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 

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