He Climbs the Hill Where the Tree Grows

A poem by Vachel Lindsay

On -
Thro' the gleaming gray
I ran to the storm and clang -
To the red, red hill where the great tree swayed -
And scattered bells like autumn leaves.
How the red bells rang!
My breath within my breast
Was held like a diver's breath -
The leaves were tangled locks of gray -
The boughs of the tree were white and gray,
Shaped like scythes of Death.
The boughs of the tree would sweep and sway -
Sway like scythes of Death.
But it was beautiful!
I knew that all was well.
A thousand bells from a thousand boughs
Each moment bloomed and fell.
On the hill of the wind-swept tree
There were no bells asleep;
They sang beneath my trailing wings
Like rivers sweet and steep.
Deep rock-clefts before my feet
Mighty chimes did keep
And little choirs did keep.


He Receives the Bells

Honeyed, small and fair,
Like flowers, in flowery lands -
Like little maidens' hands -
Two bells fell in my hair,
Two bells caressed my hair.
I pressed them to my purple lips
In the strangling Chaos-air.


He Starts on the Return Journey

On desperate wings and strong,
Two bells within my breast,
I breathed again, I breathed again -
West of the Universe -
West of the skies of the West.
Into the black toward home,
And never a star in sight,
By Faith that is blind I took my way
With my two bosomed blossoms gay
Till a speck in the East was the Milky way:
Till starlit was the night.
And the bells had quenched all memory -
All hope -
All borrowed sorrow:
I had no thirst for yesterday,
No thought for to-morrow.
Like hearts within my breast
The bells would throb to me
And drown the siren stars
That sang enticingly;
My heart became a bell -
Three bells were in my breast,
Three hearts to comfort me.
We reached the daytime happily -
We reached the earth with glee.
In an hour, in an hour it was done!
The wings in their morning flight
Were a thousand times ten thousand times
More swift than beams of light.


He Gives What He Won to the Indian Girl

I panted in the grassy wood;
I kissed the Indian Maid
As she took my wings from me:
With all the grace I could
I gave two throbbing bells to her
From the foot of the Laughing Tree.
And one she pressed to her golden breast
And one, gave back to me.

From Lilies of the valley -
See them fade.
From poppy-blooms all frayed,
From dandelions gray with care,
From pansy-faces, worn and torn,
From morning-glories -
See them fade -
From all things fragile, faint and fair
Are the Wings of the Morning made!

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