Prologue

A poem by Madison Julius Cawein

There is a poetry that speaks
Through common things: the grasshopper,
That in the hot weeds creaks and creaks,
Says all of summer to my ear:
And in the cricket's cry I hear
The fireside speak, and feel the frost
Work mysteries of silver near
On country casements, while, deep lost
In snow, the gatepost seems a sheeted ghost.

And other things give rare delight:
Those guttural harps the green-frogs tune,
Those minstrels of the falling night,
That hail the sickle of the moon
From grassy pools that glass her lune:
Or, all of August in its loud
Dry cry, the locust's call at noon,
That tells of heat and never a cloud
To veil the pitiless sun as with a shroud.

The rain, whose cloud dark-lids the moon,
The great white eyeball of the night,
Makes music for me; to its tune
I hear the flowers unfolding white,
The mushroom growing, and the slight
Green sound of grass that dances near;
The melon ripening with delight;
And in the orchard, soft and clear,
The apple redly rounding out its sphere.

The grigs make music as of old,
To which the fairies whirl and shine
Within the moonlight's prodigal gold,
On woodways wild with many a vine:
When all the wilderness with wine
Of stars is drunk, I hear it say
'Is God restricted to confine
His wonders only to the day,
That yields the abstract tangible to clay?'

And to my ear the mind of Morn,
When on her rubric forehead far
One star burns big, lifts a vast horn
Of wonder where all murmurs are:
In which I hear the waters war,
The torrent and the blue abyss,
And pines, that terrace bar on bar
The mountain side, like lovers' kiss,
And whisper words where naught but grandeur is.

The jutting crags, all iron-veined
With ore, the peaks, where eagles scream,
That pour their cataracts, rainbow-stained,
Like hair, in many a mountain stream,
Can lift my soul beyond the dream
Of all religions; make me scan
No mere external or extreme,
But inward pierce the outward plan
And learn that rocks have souls as well as man.

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