Songs from Vagabondia

by Bliss Carman and Richard Hovey




TWO shapes of august bearing, seraph tall,
Of indolent imperturbable regard,
Stood in the Tavern door to drink. As the first
Lifted his glass to let the warm light melt
In the slow bubbles of the wine, a sunbeam,
Red and broad as smouldering autumn, smote
Down through its mystery; and a single fleck,
The tiniest sun-mote settling through the air,
Fell on the grape-dark surface and there swam.
Gently the Drinker with fastidious care
Stretched hand to clear the speck away. "No, no!"—
His comrade stayed his arm. "Why," said the first,
"What would you have me do?" "Ah, let it float
A moment longer!" And the second smiled.
"Do you not know what that is?" "No, indeed."
"A mere dust-mote, a speck of soot, you think,
A plague-germ still unsatisfied. It is not.
That is the Earth. See, I will stretch my hand
Between it and the sun; the passing shadow
Gives its poor dwellers a glacial period.
Let it but stand an hour, it would dissolve,
Intangible as the color of the wine.
There, throw it away now! Lift it from the sweet
Enveloping flood it has enjoyed so well;"
(He smiled as only those who live can smile)
"Its time is done, its revelry complete,
Its being accomplished. Let us drink again."