Midsummer

A poem by Madison Julius Cawein

I

The mellow smell of hollyhocks
And marigolds and pinks and phlox
Blends with the homely garden scents
Of onions, silvering into rods;
Of peppers, scarlet with their pods;
And (rose of all the esculents)
Of broad plebeian cabbages,
Breathing content and corpulent ease.

II

The buzz of wasp and fly makes hot
The spaces of the garden-plot;
And from the orchard, - where the fruit
Ripens and rounds, or, loosed with heat,
Rolls, hornet-clung, before the feet, -
One hears the veery's golden flute,
That mixes with the sleepy hum
Of bees that drowsily go and come.

III

The podded musk of gourd and vine
Embower a gate of roughest pine,
That leads into a wood where day
Sits, leaning o'er a forest pool,
Watching the lilies opening cool,
And dragonflies at airy play,
While, dim and near, the quietness
Rustles and stirs her leafy dress.

IV

Far-off a cowbell clangs awake
The noon who slumbers in the brake:
And now a pewee, plaintively,
Whistles the day to sleep again:
A rain-crow croaks a rune for rain,
And from the ripest apple tree
A great gold apple thuds, where, slow,
The red cock curves his neck to crow.

V

Hens cluck their broods from place to place,
While clinking home, with chain and trace,
The cart-horse plods along the road
Where afternoon sits with his dreams:
Hot fragrance of hay-making streams
Above him, and a high-heaped load
Goes creaking by and with it, sweet,
The aromatic soul of heat.

VI

"Coo-ee! coo-ee!" the evenfall
Cries, and the hills repeat the call:
"Coo-ee! coo-ee!" and by the log
Labor unharnesses his plow,
While to the barn comes cow on cow:
"Coo-ee! coo-ee!" - and, with his dog,
Barefooted boyhood down the lane
"Coo-ees" the cattle home again.

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