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UNDER THE WILLOWS.
TO CHARLES ELIOT NORTON. I sit and dream that I hear, as of yore,
My Elmwood chimneys' deep-throated AGRO DOLCE,
If much be gone, there is much remains; THE wind is roistering out of doors,
| By the embers of loss I count my gains, My windows shake and my chimney roars; my chimney | You and yours with the best, till the
old hope glows My Elmwood chimneys seem crooning in the fanciful flame as I toast my toes.
to me, As of old, in their moody, minor key,
Instead of a fleet of broad-browed ships, And out of the past the hoarse wind to blows,
To send a child's armada of chips ! As I sit in my arm-chair, and toast my A freight of pebbles and grass-blades
Instead of the great guns, tier on tier, toes.
sere! “ Ho! ho! nine-and-forty," they seem 1 “Well, maybe more love with the less to sing,
gift goes," “ We saw you a little toddling thing. I growl, as, half moody, I toast my toes. We knew you child and youth and man, A wonderful fellow to dream and plan, With a great thing always to come,
UNDER THE WILLOWS. who knows? Well, well! 't is some comfort to toast | FRANK-HEARTED hostess of the field and one's toes.
Gypsy, whose roof is every spreading “How many times have you sat at gaze tree, Till the mouldering fire forgot to blaze,
June is the pearl of our New England Shaping among the whimsical coals
year. Fancies and figures and shining goals! | Still a surprisal, though expected long, What matters the ashes that cover those ?
Her coming startles. Long she lies in While hickory lasts you can toast your
Makes many a feint, peeps forth, draws
coyly back, “O dream-ship-builder! where are they Then, from some southern ambush in all,
the sky, Your grand three-deckers, deep-chested With one great gush of blossom storms and tall,
the world. That should crush the waves under can- | A week ago the sparrow was divine ; vas piles,
The bluebird, shifting his light load of And anchor at last by the Fortunate song Isles ?
From post to post along the cheerless There 's gray in your beard, the years fence, turn foes,
Was as a rhymer ere the poet come; While you muse in your arm-chair, and But now, O rapture ! sunshine winged toast your toes,
Pipe blown through by the warın wild | Motionless, with heaped canvas drooping breath of the West
idly, Shepherding his soft droves of fleecy Like a dim feet by starving men becloud,
sieged, Gladness of woods, skies, waters, all in Conjectured half, and half descried one,
afar, The bobolink has come, and, like the Helpless of wind, and seeming to slip soul
back Of the sweet season vocal in a bird, Adown the smooth curve of the oily Gurgles in ecstasy we know not what
sea. Save June! Dior Junc! Now God be praised for June.
But June is full of invitations sweet,
Forth from the chimney's yawn and May is a picus fraud of the alınanac,
To leisurely delights and sauntering A ghastly parody of real Spring
thoughts Shaped out of snow and breathed with
That brook no ceiling narrower than the eastern winil ;
blue. Or if, o'er-confident, she trust the date,
The cherry, drest for bridal, at my pane And, with her handful of anemones, Herself as shivery, steal into the sun,
Brushes, then listens, Will he come? The season nced but turn his hourglass | All dusty as a miller, takes his toll
The bee, round, And Winter suddenly, like crazy Lear,
Of powdery gold, and grumbles. What Reels back, and brings the dead May in
| To sun me and do nothing! Nay, I his arms, Her budding breasts and wan dislustred
Merely to bask and ripen is sometimes front With frosty streaks and drifts of his
The student's wiser business ; the brain
That forages all climes to line its cells, white beard All overblown. Then, warmly walled
Ranging both worlds on lightest wings with books, While my wood-fire supplies the sun's |
| Will not distil the juices it has sucked defect,
To the sweet substance of pellucid Whispering old forest-sagas in its
Except for him who hath the secret I take my May down from the happy
To mix his blood with sunshine, and to Where perch the world's rare song-birds
The winds into his pulses. Hush ! in a row, Waiting my choice to open with full |
't is he! breast,
My oriole, my glance of summer fire, And beg an alms of spring-time, ne'er
Is come at last, and, ever on the watch, denied
Twitches the pack-thread I had lightly In-doors by vernal Chaucer, whose fresh
About the bough to Telp his housekeepThrob thick with merle and mavis all
ing, -the year.
Twitches and scouts by turns, blessing
Yet fearing me who laid it in his way, July breathes hot, sallows the crispy Nor, more than wiser we in our affairs, fields,
Divines the providence that hides and Curls up the wan leaves of the lilac helps. hedge,
Heave, ho! Heave, ho! he whistles as And every eve cheats us with show of the twine clouds
Slackens its hold; once more, now! and That braze the horizon's western rim, or a flash hang
| Lightens across the sunlight to the elm
Where his mate dangles at her cup of | Their roots, like molten metal cooled in felt.
flowing, Nor all his booty is the thread; he trails Stiffened in coils and runnels down the My loosened thought with it along the bank.
The friend of all the winds, wide-armed And I must follow, would I ever find
he towers The inward rhyme to all this wealth of And glints his steely aglets in the
Or whitens fitfully with sudden bloom I care not how men trace their ancestry, of leaves breeze-lifted, much as when a To ape or Adam; let them please their whim;
of devious minnows wheel from where a But I in June am midway to believe
pike A tree among my far progenitors, Lurks balanced 'neath the lily-pads, and Such sympathy is inine with all the whirl race,
A rood of silver bellies to the day.
'Neath which slim fairies tripping When they consent to own me of their wrought those rings kin,
Of greenest emerald, wherewith fireside And condescend to me, and call me life cousin,
Did with the invisible spirit of Nature Murmuring faint lullabies of eldest time, wed, Forgotten, and yet dumbly felt with Was ever planted here ! No darnel thrills
fancy Moving the lips, though fruitless of all Might choke one useful blade in Puriwords.
tan fields ; And I have many a lifelong leafy friend, With horn and hoof the good old Devil Never estranged nor careful of my soul, came, That knows I hate the axe, and wel. The witch's broon stick was not contracomes me
band, Within his tent as if I were a bird, But all that superstition had of fair, Or other free companion of the earth, Or piety of native sweet, was doomed. Yet undegenerate to the shifts of men. And if there be who nurse unholy faiths, Among them one, an ancient willow, Fearing their god as if he were & spreads
wolf Eight balanced limbs, springing at once That snuffed round every home and was all round
not seen, His deep-ridged trunk with upward slant There should be some to watch and keep diverse,
alive In outline like enormous beaker, fit all beautiful beliefs. And such was For hand of Jotun, where mid snow that, and mist
By solitary shepherd first surmised He holds unwieldy revel. This tree, Under Thessalian oaks, loved by some spared,
maid I know not by what grace, - for in the Of royal stirp, that silent came and vanblood
ished, Of our New World subduers lingers yet As near her nest the hermit thrush, nor Hereditary feud with trees, they being dared (They and the red-man most) our fathers' Confess a mortal name, – that faith foes, --
which gave Is one of six, a willow Pleiades,
A Hamadryad to each tree ; and I The seventh fallen, that lean along the Will hold it true that in this willow brink
dwells Where the steep upland dips into the The open-handed spirit, frank and . marsh,
Of ancient Hospitality, long since, | Till it possessed me wholly, and thought With ceremonious thrift, bowed out of ceased, doors.
Or was transfused in something to which
thought In June 't is good to lie beneath a Is coarse and dull of sense. Myself was
tree While the blithe season comforts every Gone from me like an ache, and what sense,
remained Steeps all the brain in rest, and heals Become a part of the universal joy. the heart,
My soul went forth, and, mingling with Brimming it o'er with sweetness una- the tree, wares,
Danced in the leaves ; or, floating in Fragrant and silent as that rosy snow
the cloud, Wherewith the pitying apple-tree fills Saw its white double in the stream beup
low; And tenderly lines some last-year robin's Or else, sublimed to purer ecstasy, nest.
Dilated in the broad blue over all. There muse I of old times, old hopes, I was the wind that dappled the lush old friends,
grass, Old friends! The writing of those The tide that crept with coolness to its words has borne
roots, My fancy backward to the gracious past, The thin-winged swallow skating on The generous past, when all was pos- the air ; sible,
The life that gladdened everything was For all was then untried; the years be
Was I then truly all that I beheld ? Have taught some sweet, some bitter Or is this stream of being but a glass lessons, none
| Where the mind sees its visionary self, Wiser than this, — to spend in all things As, when the kingfisher fits o'er his else,
bay, But of old friends to be most miserly. Across the river's hollow heaven below Each year to ancient friendships adds a His picture flits, -- another, yet the ring,
same? As to an oak, and precious more and But suddenly the sound of human voice more,
Or footfall, like the drop a chemist Without deservingness or help of ours, pours, They grow, and, silent, wider spread, Doth in opacous cloud precipitate each year,
The consciousness that seemed but now Their unbought ring of shelter or of dissolved shade.
Into an essence rarer than its own, Sacred to me the lichens on the bark, And I am narrowed to myself once more. Which Nature's milliners would scrape away;
For here not long is solitude secure, Most dear and sacred every withered Nor Fantasy left vacant to her spell. limb!
Here, sometimes, in this paradise of 'T is good to set them early, for our shade, faith
Rippled with western winds, the dusty Pines as we age, and, after wrinkles
Seeing the treeless cansey burn beyond, Few plant, but water dead ones with Halts to unroll his bundle of strange vain tears.
And munch an unearned meal. I can. This willow is as old to me as life;
not help And under it full often have I stretched, Liking this creature, lavish Summer's Feeling the warm earth like a thing bedesman, alive,
| Who from the almshouse steals when And gathering virtue in at every pore 1 nights grow warm,
Himself his large estate and only charge, Between the branches of the tree fixed
school hours, Nor grudge the uncostly sympathy of And play at What's my thought like? smoke,
while the boys, His equal now, divinely unemployed. With whom the age chivalric ever bides, Some snack of Robin Hood is in the Pricked on by knightly spur of female man,
eyes, Some secret league with wild wood Climb high to swing and shout on peril. wandering things;
ous boughs, He is our ragged Duke, our barefoot Or, from the willow's armory equipped Earl,
With musket dumb, green banner, edgeBy right of birth exonerate from toil, less sword, Who levies rent from us his tenants all, Make good the rampart of their treeAnd serves the state by merely being.
| 'Gainst eager British storming froin beThe Scissors-grinder, pausing, doffs his
or pausing, doffs his low, hat,
And keep alive the tale of Bunker's And lets the kind breeze, with its deli Hill.
cate fan, Winnow the heat from out his dank Here, too, the men that mend our vilgray hair, —
lage ways, A grimy Ulysses, a much-wandered man, Vexing Macadam's ghost with pounded Whose feet are known to all the popu slate, lous ways,
Their nooning take; much noisy talk And many men and manners he hath they spend seen,
On horses and their ills; and, as John Not without fruit of solitary thought. | Bull He, as the habit is of lonely men, — Tells of Lord This or That, who was his Unused to try the temper of their mind friend, In fence with others, -positive and shy, So these make boast of intimacies long Yet knows to put an edge upon his With famous teams, and add large estispeech,
mates, Pithily Saxon in unwilling talk. By competition swelled from mouth to Him I entrap with my long-suffering mouth, knife,
Of how much they could draw, till one, And, while its poor blade hums away in ill pleased sparks,
To have his legend overbid, retorts: Sharpen my wit upon his gritty mind, “You take and stretch truck-horses in In motion set obsequious to his wheel, L a string And in its quality not much unlike. From here to Long Wharf end, one
thing I know, Nor wants my tree more punctual vis. Not heavy neither, they could never itors.
draw, The children, they who are the only rich, Ensign's long bow!” Then laughter Creating for the moment, and possessing loud and long. Whate'er they choose to feign, — for So they in their leaf-shadowed microstill with them
cosm Kind Fancy plays the fairy godmother, Image the larger world; for wheresoe'er Strewing their lives with cheap material Ten men are gathered, the observant eye For winged horses and Aladdin's lamps, Will find mankind in little, as the stars Pure eltin-gold, by manhood's touch Glide up and set, and all the heavens profane
revolve To dead leaves disenchanted, -- long ago | in the small welkin of a drop of dew.