Madison Julius Cawein



A Reed Shaken With The Wind

by Madison Julius Cawein


Not for you and me the path
Winding through the shadowless
Fields of morning's dewiness!
Where the brook, that hurries, hath
Laughter lighter than a boy's;
Where recurrent odors poise,
Romp-like, with irreverent tresses,
In the sun; and birds and boughs
Build a music-haunted house
For the winds to hang their dresses,
Whisper-silken, rustling in.
Ours a path that led unto
Twilight regions gray with dew;
Where moon-vapors gathered thin
Over acres sisterless
Of all healthy beauty; where
Fungus growths made sad the air
With a phantom-like caress:
Under darkness and strange stars,
To the sorrow-silenced bars
Of a dubious forestland,
Where the wood-scents seemed to stand,
And the sounds, on either hand,
Clad like sleep's own servitors
In the shadowy livery
Of the ancient house of dreams;
That before us, -- fitfully,
With white intermittent gleams
Of its pale-lamped windows, -- shone;
Echoing with the dim unknown.


To say to hope, -- Take all from me,
And grant me naught:
The rose, the song, the melody,
The word, the thought:
Then all my life bid me be slave, --
Is all I crave.

To say to time, -- Be true to me,
Nor grant me less
The dream, the sigh, the memory,
The heart's distress;
Then unto death set me a task,
Is all I ask.


I came to you when eve was young.
And, where the park went downward to
The river, and, among the dew,
One vesper moment lit and sung
A bird, your eyes said something dear.
How sweeet it was to walk with you!
How, with our souls, we seemed to hear
The darkness coming with its stars!
How calm the moon sloped up her sphere
Of fire-filled pearl through passive bars
Of clouds that berged the tender east!
While all the dark inanimate
Of nature woke; initiate
With th' moon's arrival, something ceased
In nature's soul; she stood again
Another self, that seemed t' have been
Dormant, suppressed and so unseen
All day; a life, unknown and strange
And dream-suggestive, that had lain, --
Masked on with light, -- within the range
Of thought, but unrevealed till now.
It was the hour of love. And you,
With downward eyes and pensive brow,
Among the moonlight and the dew, --
Although no word of love was spoken, --
Heard the sweet night's confession broken
Of something here that spoke in me;
A love, depth made inaudible,
Save to your soul, that answered well,
With eyes replying silently.


Fair you are as a rose is fair,
There where the shadows dew it;
And the deeps of your brown, brown hair,
Sweet as the cloud that lingers there
With the sunset's auburn through it.
Eyes of azure and throat of snow,
Tell me what my heart would know!

Every dream I dream of you
Has a love-thought in it,
And a hope, a kiss or two,
Something dear and something true,
Telling me each minute,
With three words it whispers clear,
What my heart from you would hear.


Summer came; the days grew kind
With increasing favors; deep
Were the nights with rest and sleep:
Fair, with poppies intertwined
On their blonde locks, dreamy hours,
Sunny-hearted as the rose,
Went among the banded flowers,
Teaching them, how no one knows,
Fresher color and perfume. --
In the window of your room
Bloomed a rich azalea. Pink,
As an egret's rosy plumes,
Shone its tender-tufted blooms.
From your care and love, I think,
Love's rose-color it did drink,
Growing rosier day by day
Of your tending hand's caress;
And your own dear naturalness
Had imbued it in some way.
Once you gave a blossom of it,
Smiling, to me when I left:
Need I tell you how I love it
Faded though it is now! -- Reft
Of its fragrance and its color,
Yet 'tis dearer now than then,
As past happiness is when
We regret. And dimmer, duller
Though its beauty be, when I
Look upon it, I recall
Every part of that old wall;
And the dingy window high,
Where you sat and read; and all
The fond love that made your face
A soft sunbeam in that place:
And the plant, that grew this bloom
Withered here, itself long dead,
Makes a halo overhead
There again -- and through my room,
Like faint whispers of perfume,
Steal the words of love then said.


All of my love I send to you,
I send to you,
On thoughts, like paths, that wend to you,
Here in my heart's glad garden,
Wherein, its lovely warden,
Your face, a lily seeming,
Is dreaming.

All of my life I bring to you,
I bring to you,
In deeds, like birds, that sing to you,
Here, in my soul's sweet valley,
Wherethrough, most musically,
Your love, a fountain, glistens,
And listens.

My love, my life, how blessed in you!
How blessed in you!
Whose thoughts, whose deeds find rest in you,
Here, on my self's dark ocean,
Whereo'er, in heavenly motion,
Your soul, a star, abideth,
And guideth.


Where the old Kentucky wound
Through the land, -- its stream between
Hills of primitive forest green, --
Like a goodly belt around
Giant breasts of grandeur; with
Many an unknown Indian myth,
On the boat we steamed. The land
Like an hospitable hand
Welcomed us. Alone we sat
On the under-deck, and saw
Farm-house and plantation draw
Near and vanish. 'Neath your hat,
Your young eyes laughed; and your hair,
Blown about them by the air
Of our passage, clung and curled.
Music, and the summer moon;
And the hills' great shadows hewn
Out of silence; and the tune
Of the whistle, when we whirled
Round a moonlit bend in sight of
Some lone landing heaped with hay
Or tobacco; where the light of
One dim solitary lamp
Signaled through the evening's damp:
Then a bell; and, dusky gray,
Shuffling figures on the shore
With the cable; rugged forms
On the gang-plank; backs and arms
With their cargo bending o'er;
And the burly mate before.
Then an iron bell, and puff
Of escaping steam; and out
Where the stream is wheel-whipped rough;
Music, and a parting shout
From the shore; the pilot's bell
Beating on the deck below;
Then the steady, quivering, slow
Smooth advance again. Until
Twinkling lights beyond us tell
There's a lock or little town,
Clasped between a hill and hill,
Where the blue-grass fields slope down. --
So we went. That summer-time
Lingers with me like a rhyme
Learned for dreamy beauty of
Its old-fashioned faith and love,
In some musing moment; sith
Heart-associated with
Joy that moment's quiet bore,
Thought repeated evermore.


Three sweet things love lives upon:
Music, at whose fountain's brink
Still he stoops his face to drink;
Seeing, as the wave is drawn,
His own image rise and sink.
Three sweet things love lives upon.

Three sweet things love lives upon:
Odor, whose red roses wreathe
His bright brow that shines beneath;
Hearing, as each bud is blown,
His own spirit breathe and breathe.
Three sweet things love lives upon.

Three sweet things love lives upon:
Color, to whose rainbow he
Lifts his dark eyes burningly;
Feeling, as the wild hues dawn,
His own immortality.
Three sweet things love lives upon.


Memories of other days,
With the whilom happiness,
Rise before my musing gaze
In the twilight . . . And your dress
Seems beside me, like a haze
Shimmering white; as when we went
'Neath the star-strewn firmament,
Love-led, with impatient feet
Down the night that, summer-sweet,
Sparkled o'er the lamp-lit street.
Every look love gave us then
Comes before my eyes again,
Making music for my heart
On that path, that grew for us
Roses, red and amorous,
On that path, from which oft start,
Out of recollected places,
With remembered forms and faces,
Dreams, love's ardent hands have woven
In my life's dark tapestry,
Beckoning, soft and shadowy,
To the soul. And o'er the cloven
Gulf of time, I seem to hear
Words, once whispered in the ear,
Calling -- as might friends long dead,
With familiar voices, deep,
Speak to those who lie asleep,
Comforting -- So I was led
Backward to forgotten things,
Contiguities that spread
Sudden unremembered wings;
And across my mind's still blue
From the nest they fledged in, flew
Dazzling shapes affection knew.


Ah! over full my heart is
Of sadness and of pain;
As a rose-flower in the garden
The dull dusk fills with rain;
As a blown red rose that shivers
And bends to the wind and rain.

So give me thy hands and speak me
As once in the days of yore,
When love spoke sweetly to us,
The love that speaks no more;
The sound of thy voice may help him
To speak in our hearts once more.

Ah! over grieved my soul is,
And tired and sick for sleep,
As a poppy-bloom that withers,
Forgotten, where reapers reap;
As a harvested poppy-flower
That dies where reapers reap.

So bend to my face and kiss me
As once in the days of yore,
When the touch of thy lips was magic
That restored to life once more;
The thought of thy kiss, which awakens
To life that love once more.


Sitting often I have, oh!
Often have desired you so --
Yearned to kiss you as I did
When your love to me you gave,
In the moonlight, by the wave,
And a long impetuous kiss
Pressed upon your mouth that chid,
And upon each dewy lid --
That, all passion-shaken, I
With love language will address
Each dear thing I know you by,
Picture, needle-work or frame;
Each suggestive in the same
Perfume of past happiness:
Till, meseems, the ways we knew
Now again I tread with you
From the oldtime tryst: and there
Feel the pressure of your hair
Cool and easy on my cheek,
And your breath's aroma: bare
Hand upon my arm, as weak
As a lily on a stream:
And your eyes, that gaze at me
With the sometime witchery,
To my inmost spirit speak.
And remembered ecstacy
Sweeps my soul again . . . I seem
Dreaming, yet I do not dream.


When day dies, lone, forsaken,
And joy is kissed asleep;
When doubt's gray eyes awaken,
And love, with music taken
From hearts with sighings shaken,
Sits in the dusk to weep:

With ghostly lifted finger
What memory then shall rise? --
Of dark regret the bringer --
To tell the sorrowing singer
Of days whose echoes linger,
Till dawn unstars the skies.

When night is gone and, beaming,
Faith journeys forth to toil;
When hope's blue eyes wake gleaming,
And life is done with dreaming
The dreams that seem but seeming,
Within the world's turmoil:

Can we forget the presence
Of death who walks unseen?
Whose scythe casts shadowy crescents
Around life's glittering essence,
As lessens, slowly lessens,
The space that lies between.


Bland was that October day,
Calm and balmy as the spring,
When we went a forest-way,
'Neath paternal beeches gray,
To a valleyed opening:
Where the purple aster flowered,
And, like torches shadow-held,
Red the fiery sumach towered;
And, where gum-trees sentineled
Vistas, robed in gold and garnet,
Ripe the thorny chestnut shelled
Its brown plumpness. Bee and hornet
Droned around us; quick the cricket,
Tireless in the wood-rose thicket,
Tremoloed; and, to the wind
All its moon-spun silver casting,
Swung the milk-weed pod unthinned;
And, its clean flame on the sod
By the fading golden-rod,
Burned the white life-everlasting.
It was not so much the time,
Nor the place, nor way we went,
That made all our moods to rhyme,
Nor the season's sentiment,
As it was the innocent
Carefree childhood of our hearts,
Reading each expression of
Death and care as life and love:
That impression joy imparts
Unto others and retorts
On itself, which then made glad
All the sorrow of decay,
As the memory of that day
Makes this day of spring, now, sad.


The balsam-breathed petunias
Hang riven of the rain;
And where the tiger-lily was
Now droops a tawny stain;
While in the twilight's purple pause
Earth dreams of Heaven again.

When one shall sit and sigh,
And one lie all alone
Beneath the unseen sky --
Whose love shall then deny?
Whose love atone?

With ragged petals round its pod
The rain-wrecked poppy dies;
And where the hectic rose did nod
A crumbled crimson lies;
While distant as the dreams of God
The stars slip in the skies.

When one shall lie asleep,
And one be dead and gone --
Within the unknown deep,
Shall we the trysts then keep
That now are done?


Holding both your hands in mine,
Often have we sat together,
While, outside, the boisterous weather
Hung the wild wind on the pine
Like a black marauder, and
With a sudden warning hand
At the casement rapped. The night
Read no sentiment of light,
Starbeam-syllabled, within
Her romance of death and sin,
Shadow-chaptered tragicly. --
Looking in your eyes, ah me!
Though I heard, I did not heed
What the night read unto us,
Threatening and ominous:
For love helped my heart to read
Forward through unopened pages
To a coming day, that held
More for us than all the ages
Past, that it epitomized
In its sentence; where we spelled
What our present realized
Only -- all the love that was
Past and yet to be for us.


'Though in the garden, gray with dew,
All life lies withering,
And there 's no more to say or do,
No more to sigh or sing,
Yet go we back the ways we knew,
When buds were opening.

Perhaps we shall not search in vain
Within its wreck and gloom;
'Mid roses ruined of the rain
There still may live one bloom;
One flower, whose heart may still retain
The long-lost soul-perfume.

And then, perhaps, will come to us
The dreams we dreamed before;
And song, who spoke so beauteous,
Will speak to us once more;
And love, with eyes all amorous,
Will ope again his door.

So 'though the garden 's gray with dew,
And flowers are withering,
And there 's no more to say or do,
No more to sigh or sing,
Yet go we back the ways we knew
When buds were opening.


Looking on the desolate street,
Where the March snow drifts and drives,
Trodden black of hurrying feet,
Where the athlete storm-wind strives
With each tree and dangling light, --
Centers, sphered with glittering white, --
Hissing in the dancing snow . . .
Backward in my soul I go
To that tempest-haunted night
Of two autumns past, when we,
Hastening homeward, were o'ertaken
Of the storm; and 'neath a tree,
With its wild leaves whisper-shaken,
Sheltered us in that forsaken,
Sad and ancient cemetery, --
Where folk came no more to bury. --
Haggard grave-stones, mossed and crumbled,
Tottered 'round us, or o'ertumbled
In their sunken graves; and some,
Urned and obelisked above
Iron-fenced in tombs, stood dumb
Records of forgotten love.
And again I see the west
Yawning inward to its core
Of electric-spasmed ore,
Swiftly, without pause or rest.
And a great wind sweeps the dust
Up abandoned sidewalks; and,
In the rotting trees, the gust
Shouts again -- a voice that would
Make its gaunt self understood
Moaning over death's lean land.
And we sat there, hand in hand;
On the granite; where we read,
By the leaping skies o'erhead,
Something of one young and dead.
Yet the words begot no fear
In our souls: you leaned your cheek
Smiling on mine: very near
Were our lips: we did not speak.


And suddenly alone I stood
With scared eyes gazing through the wood.
For some still sign of ill or good,
To lead me from the solitude.

The day was at its twilighting;
One cloud o'erhead spread a vast wing
Of rosy thunder; vanishing
Above the far hills' mystic ring.

Some stars shone timidly o'erhead;
And toward the west's cadaverous red --
Like some wild dream that haunts the dead
In limbo -- the lean moon was led.

Upon the sad, debatable
Vague lands of twilight slowly fell
A silence that I knew too well,
A sorrow that I can not tell.

What way to take, what path to go,
Whether into the east's gray glow,
Or where the west burnt red and low --
What road to choose, I did not know.

So, hesitating, there I stood
Lost in my soul's uncertain wood:
One sign I craved of ill or good,
To lead me from its solitude.


It was autumn: and a night,
Full of whispers and of mist,
With a gray moon, wanly whist,
Hanging like a phantom light
O'er the hills. We stood among
Windy fields of weed and flower,
Where the withered seed pod hung,
And the chill leaf-crickets sung.
Melancholy was the hour
With the mystery and loneness
Of the year, that seemed to look
On its own departed face;
As our love then, in its oneness,
All its dead past did retrace,
And from that sad moment took
Presage of approaching parting. --
Sorrowful the hour and dark:
Low among the trees, now starting,
Now concealed, a star's pale spark --
Like a fen-fire -- winked and lured
On to shuddering shadows; where
All was doubtful, unassured,
Immaterial; and the bare
Facts of unideal day
Changed to substance such as dreams.
And meseemed then, far away --
Farther than remotest gleams
Of the stars -- lost, separated,
And estranged, and out of reach,
Grew our lives away from each,
Loving lives, that long had waited.


There is no gladness in the day
Now you're away;
Dull is the morn, the noon is dull,
Once beautiful;
And when the evening fills the skies
With dusky dyes,
With tired eyes and tired heart
I sit alone, I sigh apart,
And wish for you.

Ah! darker now the night comes on
Since you are gone;
Sad are the stars, the moon is sad,
Once wholly glad;
And when the stars and moon are set,
And earth lies wet,
With heart's regret and soul's hard ache,
I dream alone, I lie awake,
And wish for you.

These who once spake me, speak no more,
Now all is o'er;
Day hath forgot the language of
Its hopes of love;
Night, whose sweet lips were burdensome
With dreams, is dumb;
Far different from what used to be,
With silence and despondency
They speak to me.


So it ends -- the path that crept
Through a land all slumber-kissed;
Where the sickly moonlight slept
Like a pale antagonist.
Now the star, that led us onward, --
Reassuring with its light, --
Fails and falters; dipping downward
Leaves us wandering in night,
With old doubts we once disdained . . .
So it ends. The woods attained --
Where our heart's desire builded
A fair temple, fire-gilded,
With hope's marble shrine within,
Where the lineaments of our love
Shone, with lilies clad and crowned,
'Neath white columns reared above
Sorrow and her sister sin,
Columns, rose and ribbon-wound, --
In the forest we have found
But a ruin! All around
Lie the shattered capitals,
And vast fragments of the walls . . .
Like a climbing cloud, -- that plies,
Wind-wrecked, o'er the moon that lies
'Neath its blackness, -- taking on
Gradual certainties of wan,
Soft assaults of easy white,
Pale-approaching; till the skies'
Emptiness and hungry night
Claim its bulk again, while she
Rides in lonely purity:
So we found our temple, broken;
And a musing moment's space
Love, whose latest word was spoken,
Seemed to meet us face to face,
Making bright that ruined place
With a strange effulgence; then
Passed, and left all black again.


The Garden Of Dreams
Copyright 1896
John P. Morton & Company, Louisville