Under Arcturus

Madison Cawein

I

"I belt the morn with ribboned mist;
 With baldricked blue I gird the noon,
And dusk with purple, crimson-kissed,
 White-buckled with the hunter's-moon.
"These follow me," the Season says:
 "Mine is the frost-pale hand that packs
Their scrips, and speeds them on their ways,
 With gypsy gold that weighs their backs."

II

A daybreak horn the Autumn blows,
 As with a sun-tanned hand he parts
Wet boughs whereon the berry glows;
 And at his feet the red fox starts.
The leafy leash that holds his hounds
 Is loosed; and all the noonday hush
Is startled; and the hillside sounds
 Behind the fox's bounding brush.
When red dusk makes the western sky
 A fire-lit window through the firs,
He stoops to see the red fox die
 Among the chestnut's broken burrs.
Then fanfaree and fanfaree,
 His bugle sounds; the world below
Grows hushed to hear; and two or three
 Soft stars dream through the afterglow.

III

Like some black host the shadows fall,
 And blackness camps among the trees;
Each wildwood road, a Goblin Hall,
 Grows populous with mysteries.
Night comes with brows of ragged storm,
 And limbs of writhen cloud and mist;
The rain-wind hangs upon his arm
 Like some wild girl who cries unkissed.
By his gaunt hands the leaves are shed
 In headlong troops and nightmare herds;
And, like a witch who calls the dead,
 The hill-stream whirls with foaming words.
Then all is sudden silence and
 Dark fear — like his who cannot see,
Yet hears, lost in a haunted land,
 Death rattling on a gallow's-tree.

IV

The days approach again; the days
 Whose mantles stream, whose sandals drag,
When in the haze by puddled ways
 The gnarled thorn seems a crooked hag.
When rotting orchards reek with rain;
 And woodlands crumble, leaf and log;
And in the drizzling yard again
 The gourd is tagged with points of fog.
Now let me seat my soul among
 The woods' dim dreams, and come in touch
With melancholy, sad of tongue
 And sweet, who says so much, so much.