The Road Back

A poem by Madison Julius Cawein

Come, walk with me and Memory;
And let us see what we shall see:
A wild green lane of stones and weeds
That to a wilder woodland leads.
An old board gate, the lichens crust,
Whose ancient hinges croak with rust.
A vale; a creek; and a bridge of planks,
And the wild sunflowers that wall its banks:
A path that winds through shine and shade
To a ferned and wildflowered forest glade;
Where, out of a grotto, a voice replies
With a faint hollo to your voice that cries:
And every wind that passes seems
A foot that follows from Lands o' Dreams.
A voice, a foot, and a shadow, too,
That whispers of things your childhood knew:
A girl that waited, a boy that came,
And an old beech tree where he carved her name;
Where still he sees her, whom still he hears
Bidding him come through the long-gone years. . . .
How oft she beckons your heart and mine
From the farmhouse window trailed deep with vine,
And porched with roses! where all must know
She used to live in the long-ago.
The farmhouse there at the end o' the lane,
With the sunset twinkling its windowpane;
Where she smiles as she smiled in the Long-ago,
The farmer's daughter you used to know,
Who has not changed to your heart for years,
Though her face you often see through tears:
Who wears her youth, as she did of old,
As a princess weareth a crown of gold.
The little sweetheart, you know for truth,
Who lives for aye in the Land of Youth;
Who never dies; who is always fair,
With eyes of mischief and tomboy hair:
Whom your heart still follows and worships, it seems,
Forever and aye in the Land o' Dreams.

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