Wednesday, February 28, 2007

a path with heart

While I was nosing around in the University of Michigan Humanities Text Initiative website, finding such gems as the home economics manual I talked about a few days ago, I ran across this too in The American Verse Project...

Cawein, Madison Julius, 1865-1914
Weeds by the wall : verses
Madison Cawein
Louisville, Ky: John P. Morton & Company, 1901


Take your time, and enjoy the imagery.
Mid-August, early September.
I've been here.

THE PATH BY THE CREEK
by Madison Cawein

THERE is a path that leads
Through purple iron-weeds,
By button-bush and mallow
Along a creek;
A path that wildflowers hallow,
That wild birds seek;
Roofed thick with eglantine
And grape and trumpet-vine.
This side, blackberries sweet
Glow cobalt in the heat;
That side, a creamy yellow,
In summertime
The pawpaws slowly mellow;
And autumn's prime
Strews red the Chickasaw,
Persimmon brown and haw.

The glittering dragon-fly,
A wing├ęd flash, goes by;
And tawny wasp and hornet
Seem gleams that drone;
The beetle, like a garnet,
Slips from the stone;
And butterflies float there,
Spangling with gold the air.
Here the brown thrashers hide,
The chat and cat-bird chide;
The blue kingfisher houses
Above the stream,
And here the heron drowses
Lost in his dream;
The vireo's flitting note
Haunts all the wild remote.
And now a cow's slow bell
Tinkles along the dell;
Where breeze-dropped petals winnow
From blossomy limbs
On waters, where the minnow,
Faint-twinkling, swims;
Where, in the root-arched shade,
Slim prisms of light are laid.
When in the tangled thorn
The new-moon hangs a horn,
Or, 'mid the sunset's islands,
Guides a canoe,
The brown owl in the silence
Calls, and the dew
Beads here its orbs of damp,
Each one a firefly lamp.

Then when the night is still
Here sings the whippoorwill;
And stealthy sounds of crickets,
And winds that pass,
Whispering, through bramble thickets
Along the grass,
Faint with far scents of hay,
Seem feet of dreams astray.
And where the water shines
Dark through tree-twisted vines,
Some water-spirit, dreaming,
Braids in her hair
A star's reflection; seeming
A jewel there;
While all the sweet night long
Ripples her quiet song.

Would I could imitate,
O path, thy happy state!
Making my life all beauty,
All bloom and beam;
Knowing no other duty
Than just to dream,
And far from pain and woe
Lead feet that come and go.
Leading to calm content,
O'er ways the Master went,
Through lowly things and humble,
To peace and love;
Teaching the lives that stumble
To look above,
Forget the world of toil
And all its sad turmoil.

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