15 April 2011

Bliss Carman at 150

Bliss Carman
(15 April 1861 – 8 June 1929)

The End of the Trail

Once more the hunters of the dusk
Are forth to search the moorlands wide,
Among the autumn-colored hills,
And wander by the shifting tide.

All day along the haze-hung verge
They scour upon a fleeing trace,
Between the red sun and the sea.
Where haunts the vision of your face.

The plane at Martock lies and drinks
The long Septembral gaze of blue;
The royal leisure of the hills
Hath wayward reveries of you.

Far rovers of the ancient dream
Have all their will of musing hours:
Your eyes were gray-deep as the sea,
Your hands lay open in the flowers!

From mining Rawdon to Pereau,
For all the gold they delve and share,
The goblins of the Ardise hills
Can horde no treasure like your hair.

The swirling tide, the lonely gulls,
The sweet low wood-winds that rejoice—
No sound nor echo of the sea
But hath tradition of your voice.

The crimson leaves, the yellow fruit.
The basking woodlands mile on mile—
No gleam in all the russet hills
But wears the solace of your smile.

A thousand cattle rove and feed
On the great marshes in the sun,
And wonder at the restless sea;
But I am glad the year is done.

Because I am a wanderer
Upon the roads of endless quest,
Between the hill-wind and the hills,
Along the margin men call rest.

Because there lies upon my lips
A whisper of the wind at morn,
A murmur of the rolling sea
Cradling the land where I was born;

Because its sleepless tides and storms
Are in my heart for memory
And music, and its gray-green hills
Run white to bear me company;

Because in that sad time of year,
With April twilight on the earth
And journeying rain upon the sea,
With the shy windflowers was my birth;

Because I was a tiny boy
Among the thrushes of the wood,
And all the rivers in the hills
Were playmates of my solitude;

Because the holy winter night
Was for my chamber, deep among
The dark pine forests by the sea,
With woven red auroras hung,

Silent with frost and floored with snow,
With what dream folk to people it
And bring their stories from the hills,
When all the splendid stars were lit;

Therefore I house me not with kin.
But journey as the sun goes forth,
By stream and wood and marsh and sea,
Through dying summers of the North;

Until, some hazy autumn day.
With yellow evening in the skies
And rime upon the tawny hills.
The far blue signal smoke shall rise,

To tell my scouting foresters
Have heard the clarions of rest
Bugling, along the outer sea.
The end of failure and of quest.

Then all the piping Nixie folk,
Where lonesome meadow winds are low,
Through all the valleys in the hills
Their river reeds shall blow and blow,

To lead me like a joy, as when
The shining April flowers return,
Back to a footpath by the sea
With scarlet hip and ruined fern.

For I must gain, ere the long night
Bury its travelers deep with snow,
That trail among the Ardise hills
Where first I found you years ago.

I shall not fail, for I am strong,
And Time is very old, they say,
And somewhere by the quiet sea
Makes no refusal to delay.

There will I get me home, and there
Lift up your face in my brown hand.
With all the rosy rusted hills
About the heart of that dear land.

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