The Lonely Land

A poem by Madison Julius Cawein

A river binds the lonely land,
A river like a silver band,
To crags and shores of yellow sand.

It is a place where kildees cry,
And endless marshes eastward lie,
Whereon looks down a ghostly sky.

A house stands gray and all alone
Upon a hill, as dim of tone,
And lonely, as a lonely stone.

There are no signs of life about;
No barnyard bustle, cry and shout
Of children who run laughing out.

No crow of cocks, no low of cows,
No sheep-bell tinkling under boughs
Of beech, or song in garth or house.

Only the curlew's mournful call,
Circling the sky at evenfall,
And loon lamenting over all.

A garden, where the sunflower dies
And lily on the pathway lies,
Looks blindly at the blinder skies.

And round the place a lone wind blows,
As when the Autumn grieving goes,
Tattered and dripping, to its close.

And on decaying shrubs and vines
The moon's thin crescent, dwindling shines,
Caught in the claws of sombre pines.

And then a pale girl, like a flower,
Enters the garden: for an hour
She waits beside a wild-rose bower.

There is no other one around;
No sound, except the cricket's sound
And far-off baying of a hound.

There is no fire or candle-light
To flash its message through the night
Of welcome from some casement bright.

Only the moon, that thinly throws
A shadow on the girl and rose,
As to its setting slow it goes.

And when 'tis gone, from shore and stream
There steals a mist, that turns to dream
That place where all things merely seem.

And through the mist there goes a cry,
Not of the earth nor of the sky,
But of the years that have passed by.

And with the cry there comes the rain,
Whispering of all that was in vain
At every door and window-pane.

And she, who waits beside the rose,
Hears, with her heart, a hoof that goes,
Galloping afar to where none knows.

And then she bows her head and weeps...
And suddenly a shadow sweeps
Around, and in its darkening deeps.

The house, the girl, the cliffs and stream
Are gone. And they, and all things seem
But phantoms, merely, in a dream.

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