The Book of the Native

by Charles G.D. Roberts


 

The Muse and the Wheel


 

The poet took his wheel one day
    A-wandering to go,
But soon fell out beside the way,
    The leaves allured him so.

He leaned his wheel against a tree

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    And in the shade lay down;
And more to him were bloom and bee
    Than all the busy town.

He listened to the Phœbe-bird
    And learned a thing worth knowing.

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He lay so still he almost heard
    The merry grasses growing.

He lay so still he dropped asleep;
    And then the Muse came by.
The stars were in her garment’s sweep,

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    But laughter in her eye.

"Poor boy!" she said, "how tired he seems!"
    His vagrant feet must follow
So many loves, so many dreams,—
    (To find them mostly hollow!)

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"No marvel if he does not feel
    My old familiar nearness!"
And then her gaze fell on his wheel
    And wondered at its queerness.

"Can you be Pegasus," she mused,

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    "To modern mood translated,
But poorly housed, and meanly used,
    And grown attenuated?

"Ah, no, you’re quite another breed
    From him who once would follow

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Across the clear Olympian mead
    The calling of Apollo!

"No Hippocrene would leap to light
    If you should stamp your hoof.
You never knew the pastures bright

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    Wherein we lie aloof.

"You never drank of Helicon,
    Or strayed in Tempe’s vale.
You never soared against the sun
    Till earth grew faint and pale.

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"You bear my poor deluded boy
    Each latest love to see!
But Pegasus would mount with joy
    And bring him straight to me!"

He woke. The olden spell was strong

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    Within his eager bosom;
And so he wrote a mystic song
    Upon the nearest blossom.

He wrote, until a sudden whim
    Set all his bosom trembling;

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Then sped to woo a maiden slim
    His latest love resembling.