From The Bibelot, A Reprint of Poetry and Prose for Book Lovers, chosen in part from scarce editions and sources not generally known, Volume X, Testimonial Edition, Edited and Originally Published by Thomas B. Mosher, Portland, Maine; Wm. Wise & Co.; New York; 1904; pp. 288-293.
I WILL go out to grass with that old King,
For I am weary of clothes and cooks.
I long to paddle with the throats of brooks,
To lie down with the clover
Tickling me all over,
And watch the boughs above me sway and swing.
Come, I will pluck off custom’s livery,
Nor longer be a lackey to old Time.
Time shall serve me, and at my feet shall fling
The spoil of listless minutes. I shall climb
The wild trees for my food, and run
Through dale and upland as a fox runs free,
Laugh for cool joy and sleep i’ the warm sun, —
And men will call me mad, like that old King.
For I am woodland-natur’d, and have made
Dryads, my bedfellows,
And I have played
With the sleek Naiads in the splash of pools
And made a mock of gowned and trousered fools.
And I am half Faun now, and my heart goes
Out to the forest and the crack of twigs,
The drip of wet leaves, and the low soft laughter
Of brooks that chuckle o’er old mossy jests
289 And say them over to themselves, the nests
Of squirrels, and the holes the chipmunk digs,
Where through the branches the slant rays
Dapple with sunlight the leaf-matted ground,
And th’ wind comes with blown vesture rustling after,
And through the woven lattice of crisp sound
A bird’s song lightens like a maiden’s face.
O wildwood Helen, let them strive and fret,
Those goggled men with their dissecting knives!
Let them in charnel-houses pass their lives
And seek in death life’s secret! And let
Those hard-faced worldlings, prematurely old,
Gnaw their thin lips with vain desire to get
Portia’s fair fame or Lesbia’s carcanet,
Or crown of Cæsar or Catullus,
Aspicius’ lampreys or Crassus’ gold!
For these consider many things — but yet
By land nor sea
They shall not find the way to Arcadie,
The old home of the awful heart-dear Mother,
Whereto child-dreams and long rememberings lull us,
Far from the cares that overlay and smother
The memories of old woodland outdoor mirth
In the dim first life-burst centuries ago,
The sense of the freedom and nearness of Earth —
Nay, this they shall not know;
For who goes thither
290 Leaves all the cark and clutch of his soul behind,
The doves defiled and the serpents shrined,
The hates that wax and the hopes that wither;
Nor does he journey, seeking where it be,
But wakes and finds himself in Arcadie.
Hist! there’s a stir in the brush.
Was it a face through the leaves?
Back of the laurels a scurry and rush
Hillward, then silence, except for the thrush
That throws one song from the dark of the bush
And is gone; and I plunge in the wood, and the swift
Through the swirl and the flow of the leaves,
As a swimmer stands with his white limbs bare to the
For the space that a breath is held, and drops in the sea;
And the undulant woodland folds round me, intimate,
Like the clasp and the cling of waters, and the reach
and the effort is done; —
There is only the glory of living, exultant to be.
Oh, goodly damp smell of the ground!
Oh, rough sweet bark of the trees!
Oh, clear sharp cracklings of sound!
Oh, life that’s a-thrill and a-bound
291 With the vigor of boyhood and morning and the noon-
tide’s rapture of ease!
Was there ever a weary heart in the world?
A lag in the body’s urge, or a flag of the spirit’s
Did a man’s heart ever break
For a lost hope’s sake?
For here there is lilt in the quiet and calm in the
quiver of things.
Ay, this old oak, grey-grown and knurled,
Solemn and sturdy and big,
Is as young of heart, as alert and elate in his rest,
As the oriole there that clings to the tip of the twig
And scolds at the wind that it buffets too rudely his
Hear! hear! hear!
Listen! the word
Of the mocking-bird!
Hear! hear! hear!
I will make all clear;
I will let you know
Where the footfalls go
That through the thicket and over the hill
How the bird-voice cleaves
Through the weft of leaves
With a leap and a thrill
292 Like the flash of the weaver’s shuttle, swift and sudden
And lo, he is gone — even while I turn
The wisdom of his runes to learn.
He knows the mystery of the wood,
The secret of the solitude;
But he will not tell, he will not tell
— For all he promises so well.
Oh, what is it breathes in the air?
Oh, what s it touches my cheek?
There’s a sense of a presence that lurks in the branches,
Is it far, is it far to seek?
Brother, lost brother!
Thou of mine ancient kin!
Thou of the swift will that no ponderings smother!
The dumb life in me fumbles out to the shade
Thou lurkest in.
In vain — evasive ever through the glade
Departing footsteps fail;
And only where the grasses have been pressed
Or by snapt twigs I follow a fruitless trail.
So — give o’er the quest!
Sprawl on the roots and moss!
Let the lithe garter squirm across my throat!
Let the slow clouds and leaves above me float
Into mine eyeballs and across, —
293 Nor think them further! Lo, the marvel! now,
Thou whom my soul desireth, even thou
Sprawl’st by my side, who fled’st at my pursuit.
I hear thy fluting; at my shoulder there
I see the sharp ears through the tangled hair,
And birds and bunnies at thy music mute.
Cool! cool! cool!
Cool and sweet
The feel of the moss at my feet!
And sweet and cool
The touch of the wind, of the wind!
Cool wind out of the blue,
At the touch of you
A little wave crinkles and flows
All over me down to my toes.
Hear the doves in the tree tops croon!
Love comes soon.
The veery sings,
Sings and sings,
A pretty tune!
Wind with your weight of perfume,
Bring me the bluebells’ bloom!