In Divers Tones

by Charles G.D. Roberts

Edited by Tracy Ware


 

ON THE CREEK


 

Dear Heart, the noisy strife
   And bitter carpings cease.
Here is the lap of life,
   Here are the lips of peace.

Afar from stir of streets,

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   The city’s dust and din,
What healing silence meets
   And greets us gliding in!

Our light birch silent floats;
   Soundless the paddle drips.

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Yon sunbeam thick with motes
   Athro’ the leafage slips,

To light the iris wings
   Of dragon-flies alit
On lily-leaves, and things

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   Of gauze that float and flit.

Above the water’s brink
   Hush’d winds make summer riot;
Our thirsty spirits drink
   Deep, deep, the summer quiet.

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We slip the world’s gray husk,
   Emerge, and spread new plumes;
In sunbeam-fretted dusk,
   Thro’ populous golden glooms,

Like thistledown we slide,

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   Two disembodied dreams,—
With spirits alert, wide-eyed,
   Explore the perfume-streams.

For scents of various grass
   Stream down the veering breeze;

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Warm puffs of honey pass
   From flowering linden-trees;

And fragrant gusts of gum,
   From clammy balm-tree buds,
With fern-brake odors, come

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   From intricate solitudes.

The elm-tops are astir
   With flirt of idle wings.
Hark to the grackles’ chirr
   When’er an elm-bough swings!

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From off yon ash-limb sere
   Out-thrust amid green branches,
Keen like an azure spear
   A kingfisher down launches.

Far up the creek his calls

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   And lessening laugh retreat.
Again the silence falls,
   And soft the green hours fleet.

They fleet with drowsy hum
   Of insects on the wing;—

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We sigh—the end must come!
   We taste our pleasure’s sting.

No more, then, need we try
   The rapture to regain.
We feel our day slip by,

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   And cling to it in vain.

But, Dear, keep thou in mind
   These moments swift and sweet!
Their memory thou shalt find
   Illume the common street;

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And thro’ the dust and din,
   Smiling, thy heart shall hear
Quiet waters lapsing thin,
   And locusts shrilling clear.