Old Spookses’ Pass, Malcolm’s Katie and Other Poems

by Isabella Valancy Crawford


 

“THE EARTH WAXETH OLD.”


 

When yellow-lock’d and crystal ey’d
    I dream’d green woods among;
Where tall trees wav’d from side to side,
And in their green breasts deep and wide,
I saw the building blue jay hide,
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    O, then the earth was young!

The winds were fresh and brave and bold,
    The red sun round and strong;
No prophet voice chill, loud and cold,
Across my woodland dreamings roll’d,
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“The green earth waxeth sere and old,
    That once was fair and young!”

I saw in scarr’d and knotty bole,
    The fresh’ning of the sap;
When timid spring gave first small dole,
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Of sunbeams thro’ bare boughs that stole,
I saw the bright’ning blossoms roll,
    From summer’s high pil’d lap.

And where an ancient oak tree lay
    The forest stream across,
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I mus’d above the sweet shrill spray,
I watch’d the speckl’d trout at play,
I saw the shadows dance and sway
    On ripple and on moss. [Page 210]

I pull’d the chestnut branches low,
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    As o’er the stream they hung,
To see their bursting buds of snow—
I heard the sweet spring waters flow—
My heart and I we did not know
    But that the earth was young!
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I joy’d in solemn woods to see,
    Where sudden sunbeams clung,
On open space of mossy lea,
The violet and anemone,
Wave their frail heads and beckon me—
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    Sure then the earth was young!

I heard the fresh wild breezes birr,
    New budded boughs among,
I saw the deeper tinting stir
In the green tassels of the fir,
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I heard the pheasant rise and whirr,
    Above her callow young.

I saw the tall fresh ferns prest,
    By scudding doe and fawn;
I say the grey dove’s swelling breast,
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Above the margin of her nest;
When north and south and east and west
    Roll’d all the red of dawn.

At eventide at length I lay,
    On grassy pillow flung;
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I saw the parting bark of day,
With crimson sails and shrouds all gay,
With golden fires drift away,
    The billowy clouds among. [Page 211]

I saw the stately planets sail
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    On that blue ocean wide;
I saw blown by some mystic gale,
Like silver ship in elfin tale,
That bore some damsel rare and pale,
    The moon’s slim crescent glide.
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And ev’ry throb of spring that shook
    The rust’ling boughs among,
That filled the silver vein of brook,
That lit with bloom the mossy nook,
Cried to my boyish bosom; “Look!
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    How fresh the earth and young!”

The winds were fresh, the days as clear
    As crystals set in gold.
No shape, with prophet-mantle drear,
Thro’ those old woods came drifting near,
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To whisper in my wond’ring ear,
    “The green earth waxeth old.” [Page 212]