The Old Byway

A poem by Madison Julius Cawein

Its rotting fence one scarcely sees
Through sumac and wild blackberries,
Thick elder and the bramble-rose,
Big ox-eyed daisies where the bees
Hang droning in repose.

The little lizards lie all day
Gray on its rocks of lichen-gray;
And, insect-Ariels of the sun,
The butterflies make bright its way,
Its path where chipmunks run.

A lyric there the redbird lifts,
While, twittering, the swallow drifts
'Neath wandering clouds of sleepy cream, -
In which the wind makes azure rifts, -
O'er dells where wood-doves dream.

The brown grasshoppers rasp and bound
Mid weeds and briers that hedge it round;
And in its grass-grown ruts, - where stirs
The harmless snake, - mole-crickets sound
Their faery dulcimers.

At evening, when the sad west turns
To lonely night a cheek that burns,
The tree-toads in the wild-plum sing;
And ghosts of long-dead flowers and ferns
The winds wake, whispering.

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