The Book of the Native

by Charles G.D. Roberts


 

Afoot


 

Comes the lure of green things growing,
Comes the call of waters flowing,—
    And the wayfarer desire
Moves and wakes and would be going.

Hark the migrant hosts of June

5
Marching nearer noon by noon!
    Hark the gossip of the grasses
Bivouacked beneath the moon!

Hark the leaves their mirth averring;
Hark the buds to blossom stirring;

10
    Hark the hushed, exultant haste
Of the wind and world conferring!

Hark the sharp, insistent cry
Where the hawk patrols the sky!
    Hark the flapping, as of banners,

15
Where the heron triumphs by!

Empire in the coasts of bloom
Humming cohorts now resume,—
    And desire is forth to follow
Many a vagabond perfume.

20
Long the quest and far the ending
Where my wayfarer is wending,—
    When desire is once afoot,
Doom behind and dream attending!

Shuttle-cock of indecision,

25
Sport of chance’s blind derision,
    Yet he may not fail nor tire
Till his eyes shall win the Vision.

In his ears the phantom chime
Of incommunicable rhyme,

30
    He shall chase the fleeting camp-fires
Of the Bedouins of Time.

Farer by uncharted ways,
Dumb as Death to plaint or praise,
    Unreturning he shall journey,

35
Fellow to the nights and days:—

Till upon the outer bar
Stilled the moaning currents are,—
    Till the flame achieves the zenith,—
Till the moth attains the star,—

40
Till, through laughter and through tears,
Fair the final peace appears,
    And about the watered pastures
Sink to sleep the nomad years!