Wild Garden

by Bliss Carman





There’s a highroad in the Catskills, a pleasant road that winds
Among the dreaming mountains by any pass it finds.

By Stony Clove and Beaverkill and Ashokan it runs
Through goldenrod and aster in the idling August suns.

There’s a byroad in the Catskills, a road that turns aside,

A winding road, a wood-road, that is neither long nor wide.

Through shade of spruce and hemlock its grassy way it wends,
And happy are the farers who follow till its ends.

What’s back here in the mountains, what’s up here in the woods,
That anyone should seek in these outlying solitudes?


Look there—at the road’s turn, groups in gay attire!
See that gaudy kerchief like a fleck of fire!

Costumes like October, when all the hills are clad
In russet gold and scarlet announcing they are glad.

Hark, is that a flute note? Surely! Classic Shades,


Can Pan be in the Catskills piping for men and maids?

A caravan of gipsies camped among the trees?
Players in a pageant? What happy folk are these?

Out of their great slab building, as open as a barn,
Where all the airs of heaven may enter and return,


There comes that silver music down the wind again!
No Pan-pipe ever uttered a more beguiling strain.

No wood-thrush in the twilight, pouring his rapture fine
Out of the heart of nature, is nearer the divine.

The wonder of the forests is rapt and brooding there,


With people standing reverently, as if in happy prayer,

Transported by the magic of haunting harmonies
Born in their rustic temple to wander down the breeze.

Their eyes are full of joyance, their mien is poised and free,—
Artists, by the grace of God! And who else could they be?


Music-makers, poets, masters of paint and clay,
They "make the pomp of emperors ridiculous" today.

Devotees of vision for high adventure freed,
With beauty for their gospel, and gladness for their creed,

Children of enchantment well content with truth,


Hearts that never bid good-bye to immortal youth.

Initiates in Wisdom who dream and understand,—
God Almighty’s mavericks who range without a brand.