After Rain

A poem by Madison Julius Cawein

Behold the blossom-bosomed Day again,
With all the star-white Hours in her train,
Laughs out of pearl-lights through a golden ray,
That, leaning on the woodland wildness, blends
A sprinkled amber with the showers that lay
Their oblong emeralds on the leafy ends.
Behold her bend with maiden-braided brows
Above the wildflower, sidewise with its strain
Of dewy happiness, to kiss again
Each drop to death; or, under rainy boughs,
With fingers, fragrant as the woodland rain,
Gather the sparkles from the sycamore,
To set within each core
Of crimson roses girdling her hips,
Where each bud dreams and drips.
Smoothing her blue-black hair, where many a tusk
Of iris flashes, like the falchions' sheen
Of Faery 'round blue banners of its Queen,
Is it a Naiad singing in the dusk,
That haunts the spring, where all the moss is musk
With footsteps of the flowers on the banks?
Or just a wild-bird voluble with thanks?
Balm for each blade of grass: the Hours prepare
A festival each weed's invited to.
Each bee is drunken with the honied air:
And all the air is eloquent with blue.
The wet hay glitters, and the harvester
Tinkles his scythe, as twinkling as the dew,
That shall not spare
Blossom or brier in its sweeping path;
And, ere it cut one swath,
Rings them they die, and tells them to prepare.
What is the spice that haunts each glen and glade?
A Dryad's lips, who slumbers in the shade?
A Faun, who lets the heavy ivy-wreath
Slip to his thigh as, reaching up, he pulls
The chestnut blossoms in whole bosomfuls?
A sylvan Spirit, whose sweet mouth doth breathe
Her viewless presence near us, unafraid?
Or troops of ghosts of blooms, that whitely wade
The brook? whose wisdom knows no other song
Than that the bird sings where it builds beneath
The wild-rose and sits singing all day long.
Oh, let me sit with silence for a space,
A little while forgetting that fierce part
Of man that struggles in the toiling mart;
Where God can look into my heart's own heart
From unsoiled heights made amiable with grace;
And where the sermons that the old oaks keep
Can steal into me. And what better then
Than, turning to the moss a quiet face,
To fall asleep? a little while to sleep
And dream of wiser worlds and wiser men.

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