University of Virginia Library







She will come tho' she loiter, believe,
Her pledge it assigns not the day;
Why brood by the embers night after night,
Sighing over their dying away—
Well, let her delay;
She is everywhere longed for as here;
A favorite, freakish and young:
Her can we gladden, then us she can cheer?
Let us think no wrong.


But watch and wait:
Wait by the pasture-bars
Or watch by the garden-gate;
For, after coming, tho' wide she stray,
First ever she shows on the slender way—
Slim sheep-track threads the hill-side brown,
Or foot-path leads to the garden down.



While snow lingered under the fir,
Loth to melt from embrace of the earth,
And ashy red embers of logs
In moonlight dozed on the hearth;
And in cage by the window sun-warmed
Our bird was enheartened to song;
It was then that, as yearly before,
By the self-same foot-path along,
She drew to the weather-beat door
That was sunned thro' the skeleton-tree:
Nothing she said, but seemed to say—
“Old folks, aren't ye glad to see me!”
And tears brimmed our eyes—bless the day!
Then she turned; revisited in sort—
She was here—she was there,
Peeping eager everywhere,
Like one who revisits scenes never forgot.



When forth the shepherd leads the flock,
White lamb and dingy ewe,
And there's dibbling in the garden,
Then the world begins anew.
When Buttercups make bright
The meadows up and down,
The Golden Age returns to fields
If never to the town.
When stir the freshening airs
Forerunning showers to meads,
And Dandelions prance,
Then Heart-Free shares the dance—
A Wilding with the Weeds!
But alack and alas
For things of wilding feature!
Since hearsed was Pan
Ill befalls each profitless creature—
Profitless to man!
Buttercup and Dandelion,
Wildings, and the rest,
Commoners and holiday-makers,
Note them in one test:


The farmers scout them,
Yea, and would rout them,
Hay is better without them—
Tares in the grass!
The florists pooh-pooh them;
Few but children do woo them,
Love them, reprieve them,
Retrieve and inweave them,
Never sighing—Alas!


Make way, make way, give leave to rove
Under your orchard as above;
A yearly welcome if ye love!
And all who loved us alway throve.
Love for love. For ever we
When some unfriended man we see
Lifeless under forest-eaves,
Cover him with buds and leaves;
And charge the chipmunk, mouse, and mole—
Molest not this poor human soul!
Then let us never on green floor
Where your paths wind round about,
Keep to the middle in misdoubt,
Shy and aloof, unsure of ye;
But come like grass to stones on moor,
Wherever mortals be.


But toss your caps, O maids and men,
Snow-bound long in farm-house pen:
We chase Old Winter back to den.
See our red waistcoats! Alive be then—
Alive to the bridal-favors when
They blossom your orchards every Spring,
And cock-robin curves on a bridegroom's wing!


The June day dawns, the joy-winds rush,
Your jovial fields are dresst;
Rosier for thee the Dawn's red flush,
Ruddier the Ruddock's breast.


Through the orchard I follow
Two children in glee.
From an apple-tree's hollow
They startle the bee.
The White Clover throws
Perfume in their way
To the hedge of Red Rose;
Between Roses and Clover
The Strawberry grows.
It is Lily and Cherry
Companioned by Butterflies
Madcaps as merry!



Now youthful is Ver
And the same, and forever,
Year after year;
And her bobolinks sing,
And they vary never
In juvenile cheer.
Old-fashioned is Ver
Tho' eternally new,
And her bobolink's young
Keep the old fashion true:
Chee, Chee! they will sing
While the welkin is blue.


Summer comes in like a sea,
Wave upon wave how bright;
Thro' the heaven of summer we'll flee
And tipple the light!
From garden to garden,
Such charter have we,
We'll rove and we'll revel,
And idlers we'll be!
We'll rove and we'll revel,
Concerned but for this,—
That Man, Eden's bad boy,
Partakes not the bliss.



Beneath yon Larkspur's azure bells
That sun their bees in balmy air
In mould no more the Blue-Bird dwells
Tho' late he found interment there.
All stiff he lay beneath the Fir
When shrill the March piped overhead,
And Pity gave him sepulchre
Within the Garden's sheltered bed.
And soft she sighed—Too soon he came;
On wings of hope he met the knell;
His heavenly tint the dust shall tame;
Ah, some misgiving had been well!
But, look, the clear etherial hue
In June it makes the Larkspur's dower;
It is the self-same welkin-blue—
The Bird's transfigured in the Flower.


Like a lit-up Christmas Tree,
Like a grotto pranked with spars,
Like white corals in green sea,
Like night's sky of crowded stars—
To me like these you show, Syringa
Such heightening power has love, believe,
While here by Eden's gate I linger
Love's tryst to keep, with truant Eve.



Soft as the morning
When South winds blow,
Sweet as peach-orchards
When blossoms are seen,
Pure as a fresco
Of roses and snow,
Or an opal serene.



Files on files of Prairie Maize:
On hosts of spears the morning plays!
Aloft the rustling streamers show:
The floss embrowned is rich below.
When Asia scarfed in silks came on
Against the Greek and Marathon,
Did each plume and pennon dance
Sun-lit thus on helm and lance
Mindless of War's sickle so?
For them, a tasseled dance of death:
For these—the reapers reap them low.
Reap them low, and stack the plain
With Ceres' trophies, golden grain.


Such monuments, and only such,
O Prairie! termless yield,
Though trooper Mars disdainful flout
Nor Annals fame the field.


Crow, in pulpit lone and tall
Of yon charred hemlock, grimly dead,
Why on me in preachment call—
Me, by nearer preachment led
Here in homily of my hoe.
The hoe, the hoe,
My heavy hoe
That earthward bows me to foreshow
A mattock heavier than the hoe.


By orchards red he whisks along,
A charioteer from villa fine;
With passing lash o' the whip he cuts
A way-side Weed divine.
But knows he what it is he does?
He flouts October's god
Whose sceptre is this Way-side Weed,
This swaying Golden Rod?



Heart of autumn!
Weather meet,
Like to sherbert
Cool and sweet.
Stock-still I stand,
And him I see
Prying, peeping
From Beech-tree;
Crickling, crackling
But, affrighted
By wee sound,
Presto! vanish—
Whither bound?
So did Baby,
Crowing mirth,
E'en as startled
By some inkling
Touching Earth,
Flit (and whither?)
From our hearth!



Like the stars in commons blue
Peep their namesakes, Asters here,
Wild ones every autumn seen—
Seen of all, arresting few.
Seen indeed. But who their cheer
Interpret may, or what they mean
When so inscrutably their eyes
Us star-gazers scrutinize.


Betimes a wise guest
His visit will sever.
Yes, absence endears.
Revisit he would,
So remains not forever.
Well, Robin the wise one
He went yestreen,
Bound for the South
Where his chums convene.
Back, he'll come back
In his new Spring vest
And the more for long absence
Be welcomed with zest.


But thou, black Crow,
Inconsiderate fowl,
Wilt never away—
Take elsewhere thy cowl?
From the blasted hemlock's
Whitened spur;
Whatever the season,
Or Winter or Ver
Or Summer or Fall,
Croaker, foreboder,
We hear thy call—
Caw! Caw! Caw!


Happy, believe, this Christmas Eve
Are Willie and Rob and Nellie and May—
Happy in hope! in hope to receive
These stockings well stuffed from Santa Claus' sleigh.
O the delight to believe in a wight
More than mortal, with something of man,
Whisking about, an invisible spright,
Almoner blest of Oberon's clan.
Stay, Truth, O stay in a long delay!
Why should these little ones find you out?
Let them forever with fable play,
Evermore hang the Stocking out!



Over the ruddy hearth, lo, the green bough!
In house of the sickle and home of the plough,
Arbored I sit and toast apples now!
Hi, there in barn! have done with the flail.
Worry not the wheat, nor winnow in the gale:
'Tis Christmas and holiday, turkey too and ale!
Creeping round the wainscot of old oak red,
The ground-pine, see—smell the sweet balsam shed!
Leave off, Katrina, to tarry there and scan:
The cream will take its time, girl, to rise in the pan.
Meanwhile here's a knocking, and the caller it is Van
Tuenis Van der Blumacher, your merry Christmas man.
Leafless the grove now where birds billed the kiss:
To-night when the fidler wipes his forehead, I wis,
And panting from the dance come our Hans and Cousin Chris,
Yon bush in the window will never be amiss!
But oats have ye heaped, men, for horses in stall?
And for each heifer young and the old mother-cow
Have ye raked down the hay from the aftermath-mow?
The Christmas let come to the creatures one and all!


Tho' the pedlar, peering in, doubtless deemed it but folly,
The yoke-cattle's horns did I twine with green holly.
Good to breathe their sweet breath this blest Christmas morn,
Mindful of the ox, ass, and Babe new-born.
The snow drifts and drifts, and the frost it benumbs:
Elsie, pet, scatter to the snow-birds your crumbs.
Sleigh-bells a' jingle! 'Tis Santa Claus: hail!
Villageward he goes thro' the spooming of the snows;
Yea, hurrying to round his many errands to a close,
A mince-pie he's taking to the one man in jail.—
What! drove right out between the gate-posts here?
Well, well, little Sharp-Eyes, blurred panes we must clear!
Our Santa Claus a clever way has and a free:
Gifts from him some will take who would never take from me.
For poor hereabouts there are none:—none so poor
But that pudding for an alms they would spurn from the door.
All the same to all in the world's wide ways—
Happy harvest of the conscience on many Christmas Days.





The tapping of a mature maple for the syrup, however recklessly done, does not necessarily kill it. No; since being an aboriginal child of Nature, it is doubtless blest with a constitution enabling it to withstand a good deal of hard usage. But systematically to bleed the immature trunk, though some sugar-makers, detected in the act on ground not their own, aver that it does the sylvan younker a deal of good, can hardly contribute to the tree's amplest development or insure patriarchal long life to it. Certain it is, that in some young maples the annual tapping would seem to make precocious the autumnal ripening or change of the leaf. And such premature change would seem strikingly to enhance the splendor of the tints.

Someone, whose morals need mending,
Sallies forth like the pillaging bee;
He waylays the syrup ascending
In anyone's saccharine tree;
So lacking in conscience indeed,
So reckless what life he makes bleed,
That to get at the juices, his staple,
The desirable sweets of the Spring,
He poignards a shapely young maple,
In my second-growth coppice—its King.
Assassin! secure in a crime never seen,
The underwood dense, e'en his victim a screen,


So be, But the murder will out,
Never doubt, never doubt:
In season the leafage will tell,
Turning red ere the rime
Yet, in turning, all beauty excell
For a time, for a time!
Small thanks to the scamp. But, in vision, to me
A goddess mild pointing the glorified tree,
“So they change who die early, some bards who life render:
Keats, stabbed by the Muses, his garland's a splendor!”



An owl in his wonted day-long retirement ruffled by the meadow-lark curvetting and caroling in the morning-sun high over the pastures and woods, comments upon that rollicker, and in so doing lets out the meditation engrossing him when thus molested. But the weightiness of the wisdom ill agrees with its somewhat trilling expression; an incongruity attributable doubtless to the contagious influence of the reprehended malapert's overruling song.

So frolic, so flighty,
Leaving wisdom behind,
Lark, little you ween
Of the progress of mind.


While fantastic you're winging,
Up-curving and singing,
A skylarking dot in the sun;
Under eaves here in wood
My wits am I giving
To this latest theme:
Life blinks at strong light,
Life wanders in night like a dream—
Is then life worth living?



For a Boulder near the spot where the last Hardback was laid low By the new proprietor of the Hill of Arrowhead.

A weed grew here.—Exempt from use,
Weeds turn no wheel, nor run;
Radiance pure or redolence
Some have, but this had none.
And yet heaven gave it leave to live
And idle it in the sun.



Some of the more scintillant West Indian humming-birds are in frame hardly bigger than a bettle or bee.

Buccaneer in gemmed attire—
Ruby, amber, emerald, jet—
Darkling, sparkling dot of fire,
Still on plunder are you set?


Summer is your sea, and there
The flowers afloat you board and ravage,
Yourself a thing more dazzling fair—
Tiny, plumed, bejewelled Savage!
Midget! yet in passion a fell
Furioso, Creoles tell.
Wing'd are you Cupid in disguise
You flying spark of Paradise?



When Sherman's March was over
And June was green and bright,
She came among our mountains,
A freak of new delight;
Provokingly our banner
Salutes with Dixie's strain,—
Little rebel from Savannah,
Three Colonels in her train.
Three bearded Puritan colonels:
But O her eyes, her mouth—
Magnolias in their languor
And sorcery of the South.
High-handed rule of beauty,
Are wars for man but vain?
Behold, three disenslavers
Themselves embrace a chain!


But, loveliest invader,
Out of Dixie did ye rove
By sallies of your raillery
To rally us, or move?
For under all your merriment
There lurked a minor tone;
And of havoc we had tidings
And a roof-tree overthrown.
Ah, nurtured in the trial—
And ripened by the storm,
Was your gaiety your courage,
And levity its form?
O'er your future's darkling waters,
O'er your past, a frozen tide,
Like the petrel would you skim it,
Like the glancing skater glide?
But the ravisher has won her
Who the wooers three did slight;
To his fastness he has borne her
By the trail that leads thro' night.
With Peace she came, the rainbow,
And like a Bow did pass,
The balsam-trees exhaling,
And tear-drops in the grass.


Now laughed the leafage over
Her pranks in woodland scene:
Hath left us for the revel
Deep in Paradise the green?
In truth we will believe it
Under pines that sigh a balm,
Though o'er thy stone be trailing
Cypress-moss that drapes the palm.


Bloom or repute for graft or seed
In flowers the flower-gods never heed.
The rose-god once came down and took—
Form in a rose? Nay, but indeed
The meeker form and humbler look
Of Sweet-Briar, a wilding or weed.



It is but a floral superstition, as everybody knows, that this plant flowers only once in a century. When in any instance the flowering is for decades delayed beyond the normal period, (eight or ten years at furthest) it is owing to something retarding in the environment or soil.

But few they were who came to see
The Century-Plant in flower:
Ten cents admission—price you pay
For bon-bons of the hour.


In strange inert blank unconcern
Of wild things at the Zoo,
The patriarch let the sight-seers stare—
Nor recked who came to view.
But lone at night the garland sighed
While moaned the aged stem:
“At last, at last! but joy and pride
What part have I with them?”
Let be the dearth that kept me back
Now long from wreath decreed;
But, Ah, ye Roses that have passed
Accounting me a weed!



Hymned down the years from ages far,
The theme of lover, seer, and king,
Reign endless, Rose! for fair you are,
Nor heaven reserves a fairer thing.
To elfin ears the bell-flowers chime
Your beauty, Queen, your fame;
Your titles, blown thro' Ariel's clime,
Thronged trumpet-flowers proclaim.


Not less with me, a groundling, bear,
Here bold for once, by nature shy:—
If votaries yours be everywhere,
And flattering you the laureats vie,—
Meekness the more your heart should share.
O Rose, we plants are all akin,
Our roots enlock; Each strives to win
The ampler space, the balmier air.
But beauty, plainness, shade, and sun—
Here share-and-share-alike is none!
And, ranked with grass, a flower may dwell,
Cheerful, if never high in feather,
With pastoral sisters thriving well
In bloom that shares the broader weather;
Charmful, mayhap, in simple grace,
A lowlier Eden mantling in her face.
My Queen, so all along I lie,
But creep I can, scarce win your eye.
But, O, your garden-wall peer over,
And, if you blush, 'twill barely be
At owning kin with Cousin Clover
Who winsome makes the low degree.





“Ay,—no!—My brain is addled yet;
With last night's flagons—full I forget.
But look.—Well, well, it so must be,
For there it is, and, sure, I see.
Yon Lilac is all right, no doubt,
Tho' never before, Rip—spied him out!
But where's the willow?—Dear, dear me!
This is the hill-side,—sure; the stream
Flows yon; and that, wife's house would seem
But for the silence. Well, may be,
For this one time—Ha! do I see
Those burdocks going in at door?
They only loitered round before!
No,—ay!—Bless me, it is the same!
But yonder Lilac! how now came—
Rip, where does Rip van Winkle live?
Lilac?—a lilac? Why, just there,
If my cracked memory don't deceive,
'Twas I set out a Lilac fair,
Yesterday morning, seems to me.
Yea, sure, that it might thrive and come
To plead for me with wife, tho' dumb.
I found it—dear me—well, well, well,
Squirrels and angels they can tell!
My head!—whose head?—Ah, Rip, (I'm Rip)
That lilac was a little slip,
And yonder lilac is a tree!”


But why rehearse in every section
The withered good-fellow's resurrection,
Happily told by happiest Irving
Never from genial verity swerving;
And, more to make the story rife,
By Jefferson acted true to life.
Me here it but behooves to tell
Of things that postumously fell.
It came to pass as years went on
(An Indian file in stealthy flight
With purpose never man has known)
A villa brave transformed the sight
Of Rip's abode to nothing gone,
Himself remanded into night.
Each June the owner joyance found
In one prized tree that held its ground,
One tenant old where all was new,—
Rip's Lilac to its youth still true.
Despite its slant ungainly trunk
Atwist and black like strands in junk,
Annual yet it flowered aloft
In juvenile pink, complexion soft.
That owner hale, long past his May,
His children's children—every one
Like those Rip romped with in the sun—
Merrily plucked the clusters gay.


The place a stranger scented out
By Boniface told in vinous way—
“Follow the fragrance!” Truth to own
Such reaching wafture ne'er was blown
From common Lilac. Came about
That neighbors, unconcerned before
When bloomed the tree by lowly door,
Craved now one little slip to train;
Neighbor from neighbor begged again.
On every hand stem shot from slip,
Till, lo, that region now is dowered
Like the first Paradise embowered,
Thanks to the poor good-for-nothing Rip!
Some think those parts should bear his name;
But no—the blossoms take the fame.
Slant finger-posts by horsemen scanned
Point the green miles—To Lilac Land.
Go ride there down one charmful lane,
O reader mine, when June's at best,
A dream of Rip shall slack the rein,
For there his heart flowers out confessed.
And there you'll say,—O, hard ones, truce!
See, where man finds in man no use,
Boon Nature finds one—Heaven be blest!