The Vagrant of Time

by Charles G.D. Roberts


 

The Vagrant of Time


 

I VOYAGE north, I journey south,
     I taste the life of many lands,
With ready wonder in my eyes
     And strong adventure in my hands.

I join the young-eyed caravans

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     That storm the portals of the West;
And sometimes in their throng I catch
     Hints of the secret of my quest.

The musks and attars of the East,
     Expecting marvels, I explore.

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I chase them down the dim bazaar,
     I guess them through the close-shut door.

In the lone cabin, sheathed in snow,
     I bide a season, well content,
Till forth again I needs must fare,

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     Called by an unknown continent.

I loiter down remembered shores
     Where restless tide-flows lift and surge,—
In my wild heart their restlessness
     And in my veins their tireless urge.

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In old grey cities oft I dwell,
     Down storied rivers drift and dream.
Sometimes in palaces I lose,
     Sometimes in hovels catch, the gleam.

Great fortune in my wayfaring

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     I stumble on, more oft than not,—
Grip comrade hands in hall or camp,
     Greet ardent lips in court or cot.

Down country lanes at noon I stray,
     Loaf in the homely wayside heat,

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And with bright flies and droning bees
     Rifle the buckwheat of its sweet.

In solitudes of peak or plain,
     When vaulted space my sense unbars,
I pitch my tent, and camp the night

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     Beyond the unfathomed gulfs of stars.

At times I thirst, at times I faint,
     Sink mired in swamp, stray blind in storm,
See high hopes shattered, faiths betrayed,—
     But stout heart deeps my courage warm.

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And sometimes rock-ridged steeps I climb
     In chill black hours before the dawn.
With battered shins and bleeding feet
     And obstinate fists I blunder on.

And then, when sunrise floods my path,

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     I pause to build my dreams anew.
But, take the gipsying all in all,
     I find a-many dreams come true.

So when, one night, I drop my pack
     Behind the Last Inn's shadowy door,

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To take my rest in that lone room
     Where no guest ever lodged before,

In sleep too deep for dreams I'll lie,—
     Till One shall knock, and bid me rise
To quest new ventures, fare new roads,

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     Essay new suns and vaster skies.