The Farmstead

A poem by Madison Julius Cawein

Yes, I love the homestead. There
In the spring the lilacs blew
Plenteous perfume everywhere;
There in summer gladioles grew
Parallels of scarlet glare.

And the moon-hued primrose cool
Satin-soft and redolent;
Honeysuckles beautiful,
Filling all the air with scent;
Roses red or white as wool.

Roses, glorious and lush,
Rich in tender-tinted dyes,
Like the gay tempestuous rush
Of unnumbered butterflies,
Clustering o'er each bending bush.

Here japonica and box,
And the wayward violets;
Clumps of star-enamelled phlox,
And the myriad flowery jets
Of the twilight four-o'-clocks.

Ah, the beauty of the place!
When the June made one great rose,
Full of musk and mellow grace,
In the garden's humming close,
Of her comely mother face!

Bubble-like, the hollyhocks
Budded, burst, and flaunted wide
Gypsy beauty from their stocks;
Morning glories, bubble-dyed,
Swung in honey-hearted flocks.

Tawny tiger-lilies flung
Doublets slashed with crimson on;
Graceful slave-girls, fair and young,
Like Circassians, in the sun
Alabaster lilies swung.

Ah, the droning of the bee;
In his dusty pantaloons
Tumbling in the fleurs-de-lis;
In the drowsy afternoons
Dreaming in the pink sweet-pea.

Ah, the moaning wildwood-dove!
With its throat of amethyst
Rippled like a shining cove
Which a wind to pearl hath kissed,
Moaning, moaning of its love.

And the insects' gossip thin
From the summer hotness hid
In lone, leafy deeps of green;
Then at eve the katydid
With its hard, unvaried din.

Often from the whispering hills,
Borne from out the golden dusk,
Gold with gold of daffodils,
Thrilled into the garden's musk
The wild wail of whippoorwills.

From the purple-tangled trees,
Like the white, full heart of night,
Solemn with majestic peace,
Swam the big moon, veined with light;
Like some gorgeous golden-fleece.

She was there with me. And who,
In the magic of the hour,
Had not sworn that they could view,
Beading on each blade and flower
Moony blisters of the dew?

And each fairy of our home,
Firefly, its taper lit
In the honey-scented gloam,
Dashing down the dusk with it
Like an instant-flaming foam.

And we heard the calling, calling,
Of the screech-owl in the brake;
Where the trumpet-vine hung, crawling
Down the ledge, into the lake
Heard the sighing streamlet falling.

Then we wandered to the creek
Where the water-lilies, growing
Thick as stars, lay white and weak;
Or against the brooklet's flowing
Bent and bathed a bashful cheek.

And the moonlight, rippling golden,
Fell in virgin aureoles
On their bosoms, half unfolden,
Where, it seemed, the fairies' souls
Dwelt as perfume, unbeholden;

Or lay sleeping, pearly-tented,
Baby-cribbed within each bud,
While the night-wind, piney-scented,
Swooning over field and flood,
Rocked them on the waters dented.

Then the low, melodious bell
Of a sleeping heifer tinkled,
In some berry-briered dell,
As her satin dewlap wrinkled
With the cud that made it swell.

And, returning home, we heard,
In a beech-tree at the gate,
Some brown, dream-behaunted bird,
Singing of its absent mate,
Of the mate that never heard.

And, you see, now I am gray,
Why within the old, old place,
With such memories, I stay;
Fancy out her absent face
Long since passed away.

She was mine yes! still is mine:
And my frosty memory
Reels about her, as with wine
Warmed into young eyes that see
All of her that was divine.

Yes, I loved her, and have grown
Melancholy in that love,
And the memory alone
Of perfection such whereof
She could sanctify each stone.

And where'er the poppies swing
There we walk, as if a bee
Bent them with its airy wing,
Down her garden shadowy
In the hush the evenings bring.

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