Paths

A poem by Madison Julius Cawein

I

What words of mine can tell the spell
Of garden ways I know so well? -
The path that takes me in the spring
Past quince-trees where the bluebirds sing,
And peonies are blossoming,
Unto a porch, wistaria-hung,
Around whose steps May-lilies blow,
A fair girl reaches down among,
Her arm more white than their sweet snow.

II

What words of mine can tell the spell
Of garden ways I know so well? -
Another path that leads me, when
The summer time is here again,
Past hollyhocks that shame the west
When the red sun has sunk to rest;
To roses bowering a nest,
A lattice, 'neath which mignonette
And deep geraniums surge and sough,
Where, in the twilight, starless yet,
A fair girl's eyes are stars enough.

III

What words of mine can tell the spell
Of garden ways I know so well? -
A path that takes me, when the days
Of autumn wrap the hills in haze,
Beneath the pippin-pelting tree,
'Mid flitting butterfly and bee;
Unto a door where, fiery,
The creeper climbs; and, garnet-hued,
The cock's-comb and the dahlia flare,
And in the door, where shades intrude,
Gleams bright a fair girl's sunbeam hair.

IV

What words of mine can tell the spell
Of garden ways I know so well? -
A path that brings me through the frost
Of winter, when the moon is tossed
In clouds; beneath great cedars, weak
With shaggy snow; past shrubs blown bleak
With shivering leaves; to eaves that leak
The tattered ice, whereunder is
A fire-flickering window-space;
And in the light, with lips to kiss,
A fair girl's welcome-smiling face.

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