The Rough Rider and Other Poems

by Bliss Carman


 

ON PONUS RIDGE


 

I HEARD the voice of our mother planet murmur today as the
  south wind blew
Over the old Connecticut granite, up from the Sound and the rainy
  blue.
"What is your comment, wandering brother," said Ponus Ridge to  
  the striding rain,  
"Not on the new word, Love one another, but the harder text, Ye  
  shall rise again?  

"Hast thou found out truth at the core of being, in thy long
 
  wandering to and fro?
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Dost thou know what lurks beyond foreseeing in the endless  
  rhythm of ebb and flow?"  
"Much have I heard," said Rain, "of the babel and heated haste of  
  the lordling Man,  
Telling the wind his gorgeous fable; but who shall hurry or check  
  the plan?  

"I take small heed of the tales he mutters," the glittering copious
 
  rain ran on;  
"My music drowns the words he utters; I make my bed where his  
  town-lights shone.
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I hear the drone of his church and college, humming like hives  
  from roof to floor  
With direful chant and delirious knowledge, as I pass foot-free by  
  their open door.  

"I have heard the vaunts of his daring dreamers, the things
 
  foretold by his sons of might,  
And watched him flaunt like boreal streamers that glow and fade  
  in the arctic night.  
I have seen the flare of his pageants kindled, the pride of  
  Carthage, the pomp of Tyre;
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And even as I fell they sank and dwindled, beaten down like a  
  farm-boy’s fire.  

"The earth is my house, the spring my portal; I serve without envy,
 
  debate of fear.  
Though I pass in mist, am I less immortal than the greatening  
  germ or the glowing sphere?  
I come from the sea and I go to the sea; ten thousand times have I  
  risen again  
From the welter and lift of eternity, to solace thy waiting not in  
  vain.
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"My strength is loosed for thy brooks and rivers, by lake and
 
  orchard, by wood and field;  
My silver voice with a sob delivers the message foretelling a  
  goodly yield.  
I have quickened the joy in thy swelling breast, I have sluiced the  
  ache of thy breeding fire;  
I have perished in transport and died with zest, to fill the measure  
  of thy desire.  

"The seeds of life are of my sowing, the virile impulse, the fertile
 
  gush,
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The gist and start of all things growing; but thine is the warmth and  
  the pregnant hush.  
The stir of joy is of my giving; a hint of perfection far and fine  
I speak as I pass to all things living; but the patient wisdom and  
  lore are thine."  

Then the mother granite, grey, eternal, scarred, to the careless
 
  eye uncouth,
Spoke in a language pure and vernal, solemn as beauty and  
  sweet as truth.
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In the voice of the Ridge in her April season, through the babble  
  of streams and the calls of birds,  
Under the rune I caught the reason, out of the murmur I made the  
  words.  

"Nay, my comrade, I too must pass; though my fleeting hours be
 
  ages long,  
I abide in the end no more than the grass, than a puff of smoke or  
  a strain of song.  
If I give myself to the moment’s rapture of lilt and leafage, shall I  
  repine
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That the joy I bestow escape recapture, spent for the beauty of  
  branch and vine?  

"Strong, unhurrying, unbelated, part of the slow sidereal urge,
Patient and sure at heart I waited for life to throb and its forms  
  emerge.  
While cosmic æons dawned and darkened, and monstrous drift  
  and blast went by,  
In my slow gestation I lay and harkened for soul to question and  
  sense to cry.
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"I am the ardent and ageless mother of all things human, all things
 
  divine.  
The ravaging snows may whirl and smother, the large cold moon  
  of November shine,  
But safe in my soil the germs are sleeping that shall awake when  
  the time is come,  
To prove the beneficence of my keeping, and don the glory of  
  fragrant bloom.  

"See my young willows in sunlight lifting their silver lances against
 
  the blue,
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And here where the matted leaves are rifting, the hoods of the  
  blood-root breaking through.  
Soon in the sheltered sun-warmed places, out of my ancient  
  enchanted mould,  
Frail spring-beauties will lift their faces, and addertongues put  
  forth their gold.  

"Hark to my minstrel, beyond the boulders down in the
 
  swamp,—on time, no fear!—  
In his sable coat with scarlet shoulders, with his husky flute that is  
  good to hear.
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And hark again, in the long Aprilian dusk on the marsh to my  
  piper’s cry.  
To-night but one, to-morrow a million will lift my heart on their  
  chorus high.  

"Now Sirius low in the west is leaning, Arcturus lifts on the eastern
 
  rim,—  
The poise, the order, the mighty meaning, creating beauty from  
  brim to brim.  
Under the dust of seed and planet, the river music, the starry light,
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Am I in the midst, immortal granite merging my strength with the  
  soul of night.  

"At morn I shall see from my stream-bed narrow the wild geese
 
  flapping with honk and plash,  
To steady and drive their Indian arrow north-by-east for the  
  Allegash.  
And then the high clear note of gladness, the rallying call of the  
  golden-wing,  
The solace of grief, the shame of sadness, the goodly far-sent  
  summons of spring.
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"Here all day long I shall lie and ponder the teeming life whereon I
 
  brood,  
While the buds unfold, the low clouds wander, and all things flow  
  to rhythm and mood,  
And seeing all form but the trace of motion, all beauty the vestige  
  of joy made plain,  
Shall I stint my care and my devotion, to vex me with counting the  
  once or again?  

"I take no measure, I keep no tally, of the budding spray and the
 
  leafing bough,
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Yet not a blossom in the all the valley but is the pride of my  
  patience now.  
In the hardwood groves where the sun lies mellow, the purple  
  hepaticas take the air.  
I help the catkins to break and yellow; the greening spring-runs  
  are in my care.  

"I loosen the sheath of the bladed rushes, I lift the sap in the spiral
 
  cells,  
Till the first soft tinge through the woodland flushes, and the  
  crimson bud of the maple swells.
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I nurse them to beauty hour by hour. And there by the road in its  
  grove of pine,  
The little bare school with its dreams of power and joy of  
  knowledge,—that, too, is mine!"