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Poem by Madison Julius Cawein
The cuckoo-sorrel paints with pink The green page of the meadow-land Around a pool where thrushes drink As from a hollowed hand. A hill, long-haired with leathered grass Combed by the strong incessant wind, Looks down upon the pool's pale glass Like some old hag gone blind, And on a forest grey of beech, Reserved, mysterious, deep and wild, That whispers to itself; its speech Like some old man's turned child. A forest, through which something speaks Authoritative things to man, A something that o'erawed the Greeks, The universal Pan. And through the forest falls a stream Babbling of immemorial things The myth, that haunts it like a dream, The god, that in it sings. And here it was, when I was young, Across this meadow, sorrel-stained, To this green place where willows wrung Wild hands, and beech-trees strained Their mighty strength with winds of spring, That clutched and tore the wild-witch hair Of yon gaunt hill, I heard them sing, The hylas hidden there. The slant gale played soft fugues of rain, With interludes of sun between, Where windflowers wove a twinkling chain Through mosses grey and green. From every coign of woodland peered The starry eyes of Loveliness, As reticently now she neared Or stood in shy distress. Then I remembered all the past The ancient ships, the unknown seas; And him, like some huge, knotted mast, My master Herakles. Again I saw the port, the wood Of Cyzicus; the landing there; The pool among the reeds; and, nude, The nymphs with long green hair, That swarmed to clasp me when I stooped To that grey pool as clear as glass, And round my body wrapped and looped Their hair, like water-grass. Hylas, the Argonaut, the lad Beloved of Herakles, was I Again with joy my heart grew sad, Dreaming on days gone by. Again I felt the drowning pain, The kiss that slew me long ago; The dripping arms drew down again, And love cried all its woe. The new world vanished! 'Twas the old. Once more I knew the Mysian shore, The haunted pool, the wood, the cold Wild wind from sea and moor. And then a voice went by; 'twas his, The Demigod's who sought me: but Cold mouths had closed mine with a kiss And both mine eyes were shut.... And had the hylas ceased to sing? Or what? For, lo! I stood again Between the hill and wood; and Spring Gazed at me through the rain. And in her gaze I seemed to see This was a dream she'd dreamed, not I; A figment of a memory That I had felt go by.
Madison Julius Cawein
Madison Julius Cawein's other poems:
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