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. 278-87.
I SAID in my heart, “I am sick of four walls and a
I have need of the sky.
I have business with the grass.
I will up and get me away where the hawk is wheeling,
Lone and high,
And the slow clouds go by.
I will get me away to the waters that glass
The clouds as they pass,
To the waters that lie
Like the heart of a maiden aware of a doom drawing
And dumb for sorcery of impending joy.
I will get me away to the woods.
Spring, like a huntsman’s boy,
Halloos along the hillsides and unhoods
The falcon in my will.
The dogwood calls me, and the sudden thrill
That breaks in apple blooms down country roads
Plucks me by the sleeve and nudges me away.
The sap is in the boles to-day,
And in my veins a pulse that yearns and goads.”
279 When I got to the woods, I found out
What the Spring was about.
With her gypsy ways
And her heart ablaze,
Coming up from the south
With the wander-lure of witch songs in her mouth.
For the sky
Stirred and grew soft and swimming as a lover’s eye
As she went by;
Made love to all it touched, as if its care
Were all to spare;
Prickled with lust of birth;
The woodland streams
Babbled the incoherence of the thousand dreams
Wherewith the warm sun teems.
And out of the frieze
Of the chestnut trees
The sky and the fields and the thicket find voice in a
The goldenwing — hark!
How he drives his song
Like a golden nail
Through the hush of the air!
I thrill to his cry in the leafage there;
I respond to the new life mounting under the bark.
I shall not be long
280 To follow
With eft and bulrush, bee and bud and swallow,
On the old trail.
Spring in the world!
And all things are made new!
There was never a mote that whirled
In the nebular morn,
There was never a brook that purled
When the hills were born,
There was never a leaf uncurled —
Not the first that grew —
Nor a bee-flight hurled,
Nor a bird-note skirled,
Nor a cloud-wisp swirled
In the depth of the blue,
More alive and afresh and impromptu, more thought-
less and certain and free,
More a-shout with the glee
Of the Unknown new-burst on the wonder, than here,
In the re-wrought sphere
Of the new-born year —
When the greenlet sings on the red-bud bough
Where the blossoms are whispering “I and thou,” —
“I and thou,”
And a lass at the turn looks after her lad with a dawn
on her brow,
281 And the world is just made — now!
Spring in the heart!
With her pinks and pearls and yellows!
And we too feel the little green leaves a-start
Across the bare-twigged winter of the mart.
The campus is reborn in us to-day;
The old grip stirs our hearts with new-old joy;
Again bursts bonds for madcap holiday
The eternal boy.
For we have not come here for long debate
Nor taking counsel for our household order,
Howe’er we make a feint of serious things, —
For all the world as in affairs of state
A word goes out for war along the border
To further or defeat the loves of kings.
We put our house to rights from year to year,
But that is not the call that brings us here;
We have come here to be glad.
Give a rouse, then, in the Maytime
For a life that knows no fear!
Turn night-time into daytime
With the sunlight of good cheer!
For it’s always fair weather
When good fellows get together
With a stein on the table and a good song ringing clear.
282 When the wind comes up from Cuba
And the birds are on the wing,
And our hearts are patting juba
To the banjo of the spring,
Then there’s no wonder whether
The boys will get together,
With a stein on the table and a cheer for everything.
For we’re all frank-and-twenty
When the spring is in the air,
And we’ve faith and hope a-plenty,
And we’ve life and love to spare;
And it’s birds of a feather
When we all get together,
With a stein on the table and a heart without a care.
For we know the world is glorious
And the goal a golden thing,
And that God is not censorious
When his children have their fling;
And life slips its tether
When the boys get together,
With a stein on the table in the fellowship of spring.
A road runs east and a road runs west
From the table where we sing;
And the lure of the one is a roving quest,
And the lure of the other a lotus dream.
283 And the eastward road leads into the West
Of the lifelong chase of the vanishing gleam;
And the westward road leads into the East,
Where the spirit from striving is released,
Where the soul like a child in God’s arms lies
And forgets the lure of the butterflies.
And west is east, if you follow the trail to the end;
And east is west, if you follow the trail to the end;
And the East and the West in the spring of the world
As a man and a woman that plight
Their troth in the warm spring night.
And the spring for the East is the sap in the heart of
And the spring for the West is the will in the wings of
But the spring for the East and the West alike shall be
An urge in their bones and an ache in their spirit, a
That shall knit them in one for Time’s foison, once
they have heard.
And do I not hear
The first low striving of that greater spring
Thrill in the underworld of the cosmic year?
The wafture of scant violets presaging
The roses and the tasselled corn to be;
A yearning in the roots of grass and tree;
284 A swallow in the eaves;
The hint of coming leaves;
The signals of the summer coming up from Arcadie!
For surely in the blind deep-buried roots
Of all men’s souls to-day
A secret quiver shoots.
An underground compulsion of new birth
Lays hold upon the dark core of our being,
And unborn blossoms urge their uncomprehended way
Toward the outer day.
Unconscious, dumb, unseeing,
The darkness in us is aware
Of something potent burning through the earth,
Of something vital in the procreant air.
Is it a spring, indeed?
Or do we stir and mutter in our dreams,
Only to sleep again?
What warrant have we that we give not heed
To the caprices of an idle brain
That in its slumber deems
The world of slumber real as it seems?
Spring ’s not to be mistaken.
When her first far flute notes blow
Across the snow,
285 Bird, beast, and blossom know
That she is there.
The very bats awaken
That hand in clusters in Kentucky caves
All winter, breathless, motionless, asleep,
And feel no alteration of the air,
For all year long those vasty caverns keep,
Winter and summer, even temperature;
And yet when April whistles on the hill,
Somehow, far in those subterranean naves,
They know, they hear her, they obey her will,
And wake and circle through the vaulted aisles
To find her in the open where she smiles.
So we are somehow sure,
By this dumb turmoil in the soul of man,
Of an impending something. When the stress
Climbs to fruition, we can only guess
What many-seeded harvest we shall scan;
But from one impulse, like a northering sun,
The innumerable outburst is begun,
And in that common sunlight all men know
A common ecstasy
And feel themselves at one.
The comradeship of joy and mystery
Thrills us more vitally as we arouse,
And we shall find our new day intimate
Beyond the guess of any long ago.
286 Doubting or elate,
With agony or triumph on our brows,
We shall not fail to be
Better comrades than before;
For no new sense puts forth in us but we
Enter our fellows’ lives thereby the more.
And three great spirits with the spirit of man
Go forth to do his bidding. One is free,
And one is shackled, and the third, unbound,
Halts yet a little with a broken chain
Of antique workmanship, not wholly loosed,
That dangles and impedes his forthright way,
Unfettered, swift, hawk-eyed, implacable,
Teh wonder-worker Science, with his wand,
Subdues an alien world to man’s desires.
And Art with wide imaginative wings
Stands by, alert for flight, to bear his lord
Into the strange heart of that alien world
Till he shall live in it as in himself
And know its longing as he knows his own.
Behind a little, where the shadows fall,
Lingers Religion with deep-brooding eyes,
Serene, impenetrable, transpicuous
As the all-clear and all-mysterious sky,
Biding her time to fuse into one act
Those other twain, man’s right hand and his left.
287 For all the bonds shall be broken and sent in sunder,
And the soul of man go free
Forth with those three
Into the lands of wonder;
Like some undaunted youth,
Afield in quest of truth,
Rejoicing in the road he journeys on
As much as in the hope of journey done.
And the road runs east, and the road runs west,
That his vagrant feet explore;
And he knows no haste and he knows no rest,
And every mile has a stranger zest
Than the miles he trod before;
And his heart leaps high in the nascent year
When he sees the purple buds appear;
For he knows, though the great black frost may blight
The hope of May in a single night,
That the spring, though it shrink back under the bark,
But bides its time somewhere in the dark —
Though it come not now to its blossoming,
By the thrill in his heart he knows the spring;
And the promise it makes perchance too soon,
It shall keep with its roses yet in June;
For the ages fret not over a day,
And the greater to-morrow is on its way.