The Dance Of Summer

A poem by Madison Julius Cawein

Summer, gowned in catnip-gray,
Goes her weedy wildwood way,
Where with rosehip-buttoned coat,
Cardinal flower-plume afloat,
With the squirrel-folk at play,
Brown September, smiling, stands,
Chieftain of the Romany bands
Of the Fall a gypsy crew,
Glimmering in lobelia-blue,
Gold and scarlet down the lands.
Summer, with a redbird trill,
Dares him follow at her will,
There to romp in tree and vine,
Drink the sunset's crimson wine,
And on beauty feast his fill.
He his Autumn whistle takes,
And his dark hair backward shakes;
Pipes a note, and bids her on,
Dancing like a woodland faun,
And she follows through the brakes.
She must follow: she is bound
By the wildness of the sound.
Is it love or necromance?
Down the world he leads the dance,
And the woods go whirling round.
Wildly briars clutch and hold;
Branches reach out arms of gold;
Naught can stay them. Pipe, and follow
Over hill and over hollow
Till the night fall dark and cold.
Now her gown is torn in shreds,
And her gossamer veil is threads
Streaming round her nakedness;
And the flowers, at her distress,
Weep and hide their drooping heads.
Round her whirl the frightened leaves,
And the stammering water grieves;
Nut and haw the forest throws
At her as she dancing goes
To the pipe that magic weaves.
Death will have her. She must spin
Till, a skeleton, she win
To the land where Winter dwells,
Where shall end Fall's gipsy spells,
And her long white sleep begin.

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