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- In Divers Tones - 3/14 -

The color of nipt beech-leaves: Ay, such hair Was mine in years when I was such as these. I let it fall to cover me, or coiled Its soft thick coils about my throat and arms; Its color like nipt beech-leaves, tawny brown, But in the sun a fountain of live gold.

Even as thus they played, and some lithe maids Upreached white arms to grasp the berried ash, And, plucking the bright bunches, shed them wide By red ripe handfuls, not far off I saw With long stride making down the beechy glade, Clear-eyed, with firm lips laughing, at his heels The clamor of his fifty deep-tongued hounds, Actaeon. I beheld him not far off, But unto bath and bathers hid from view, Being beyond that mighty rock whereon His wont was to be stretched at dip of eve, When frogs are loud amid the tall-plumed sedge In marshy spots about Asopus' bank,-- Deeming his life was very sweet, his day A pleasant one, the peopled breadths of earth Most fair, and fair the shining tracts of sea; Green solitudes, and broad low-lying plains Made brown with frequent labors of men's hands, And salt, blue, fruitless waters. But this mount, Cithaeron, bosomed deep in soundless hills, Its fountained vales, its nights of starry calm, Its high chill dawns, its long-drawn golden days,-- Was dearest to him. Here he dreamed high dreams, And felt within his sinews strength to strive Where strife was sorest and to overcome, And in his heart the thought to do great deeds, With power in all ways to accomplish them. For had not he done well to men, and done Well to the gods? Therefore he stood secure.

But him,--for him--Ah that these eyes should see!-- Approached a sudden stumbling in his ways! Not yet, not yet he knew a god's fierce wrath, Nor wist of that swift vengeance lying in wait.

And now he came upon a slope of sward Against the pool. With startled cry the maids Shrank clamoring round their mistress, or made flight To covert in the hazel thickets. She Stirred not; but pitiless anger paled her eyes, Intent with deadly purpose. He, amazed, Stood with his head thrust forward, while his curls Sun-lit lay glorious on his mighty neck,-- Let fall his bow and clanging spear, and gazed Dilate with ecstasy; nor marked the dogs Hush their deep tongues, draw close, and ring him round, And fix upon him strange, red, hungry eyes, And crouch to spring. This for a moment. Then It seemed his strong knees faltered, and he sank. Then I cried out,--for straight a shuddering stag Sprang one wild leap over the dogs; but they Fastened upon his flanks with a long yell, And reached his throat; and that proud head went down Beneath their wet, red fangs and reeking jaws.

I have lived long, and watched out many days, Yet have not seen that ought is sweet save life, Nor learned that life hath other end than death. Thick horror like a cloud had veiled my sight, That for a space I saw not, and my ears Were shut from hearing; but when sense grew clear Once more, I only saw the vacant pool Unrippled,--only saw the dreadful sward. Where dogs lay gorged, or moved in fretful search, Questing uneasily; and some far up The slope, and some at the low water's edge, With snouts set high in air and straining throats Uttered keen howls that smote the echoing hills. They missed their master's form, nor understood Where was the voice they loved, the hand that reared;-- And some lay watching by the spear and bow Flung down.

And now upon the homeless pack And paling stream arose a noiseless wind Out of the yellow west awhile, and stirred The branches down the valley; then blew off To eastward toward the long gray straits, and died Into the dark, beyond the utmost verge.


Wind of the summer afternoon, Hush, for my heart is out of tune!

Hush, for thou movest restlessly The too light sleeper, Memory!

Whate'er thou hast to tell me, yet 'Twere something sweeter to forget,--

Sweeter than all thy breath of balm An hour of unremembering calm!

Blowing over the roofs, and down The bright streets of this inland town,

These busy crowds, these rocking trees-- What strange note hast thou caught from these?

A note of waves and rushing tides, Where past the dikes the red flood glides,

To brim the shining channels far Up the green plains of Tantramar.

Once more I snuff the salt, I stand On the long dikes of Westmoreland;

I watch the narrowing flats, the strip Of red clay at the water's lip;

Far off the net-reels, brown and high, And boat-masts slim against the sky;

Along the ridges of the dikes Wind-beaten scant sea-grass, and spikes

Of last year's mullein; down the slopes To landward, in the sun, thick ropes

Of blue vetch, and convolvulus, And matted roses glorious.

The liberal blooms o'erbrim my hands; I walk the level, wide marsh-lands;

Waist-deep in dusty-blossomed grass I watch the swooping breezes pass

In sudden, long, pale lines, that flee Up the deep breast of this green sea.

I listen to the bird that stirs The purple tops, and grasshoppers

Whose summer din, before my feet Subsiding, wakes on my retreat.

Again the droning bees hum by; Still-winged, the gray hawk wheels on high;

I drink again the wild perfumes, And roll, and crush the grassy blooms.

Blown back to olden days, I fain Would quaff the olden joys again;

But all the olden sweetness not The old unmindful peace hath brought.

Wind of this summer afternoon, Thou hast recalled my childhood's June;

My heart--still is it satisfied By all the golden summer-tide?

Hast thou one eager yearning filled, Or any restless throbbing stilled,

Or hast thou any power to bear Even a little of my care?--

Ever so little of this weight Of weariness canst thou abate?

Ah, poor thy gift indeed, unless Thou bring the old child-heartedness,--

And such a gift to bring is given, Alas, to no wind under heaven!

Wind of the summer afternoon, Be still; my heart is not in tune.

Sweet is thy voice; but yet, but yet-- Of all 'twere sweetest to forget!



Ringed with the flocking of hills, within shepherding watch of Olympus, Tempe, vale of the gods, lies in green quiet withdrawn; Tempe, vale of the gods, deep-couched amid woodland and woodland, Threaded with amber of brooks, mirrored in azure of pools, All day drowsed with the sun, charm-drunken with moonlight at midnight,

In Divers Tones - 3/14

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