From out the hills where twilight stands,
Above the shadowy pasture lands,
With strained and strident cry,
Beneath pale skies that sunset bands,
The bull-bats fly.
A cloud hangs over, strange of shape,
And, colored like the half-ripe grape,
Seems some uneven stain
On heaven's azure; thin as crape,
And blue as rain.
By ways, that sunset's sardonyx
O'erflares, and gates the farm-boy clicks,
Through which the cattle came,
The mullein-stalks seem giant wicks
Of downy flame.
From woods no glimmer enters in,
Above the streams that, wandering, win
To where the wood pool bids,
Those haunters of the dusk begin, -
Adown the dark the firefly marks
Its flight in gold and emerald sparks;
And, loosened from his chain,
The shaggy mastiff bounds and barks,
And barks again.
Each breeze brings scents of hill-heaped hay;
And now an owlet, far away,
Cries twice or thrice, "T-o-o-w-h-o-o";
And cool dim moths of mottled gray
Flit through the dew.
The silence sounds its frog-bassoon,
Where, on the woodland creek's lagoon, -
Pale as a ghostly girl
Lost 'mid the trees, - looks down the moon
With face of pearl.
Within the shed where logs, late hewed,
Smell forest-sweet, and chips of wood
Make blurs of white and brown,
The brood-hen cuddles her warm brood
Of teetering down.
The clattering guineas in the tree
Din for a time; and quietly
The henhouse, near the fence,
Sleeps, save for some brief rivalry
Of cocks and hens.
A cowbell tinkles by the rails,
Where, streaming white in foaming pails,
Milk makes an uddery sound;
While overhead the black bat trails
Around and round.
The night is still. The slow cows chew
A drowsy cud. The bird that flew
And sang is in its nest.
It is the time of falling dew,
Of dreams and rest.
The beehives sleep; and round the walk,
The garden path, from stalk to stalk
The bungling beetle booms,
Where two soft shadows stand and talk
Among the blooms.
The stars are thick: the light is dead
That dyed the west: and Drowsyhead,
Tuning his cricket-pipe,
Nods, and some apple, round and red,
Now down the road, that shambles by,
A window, shining like an eye
Through climbing rose and gourd,
Shows Age and young Rusticity
Seated at board.