Three miles of trees it is: and I
Came through the woods that waited, dumb,
For the cool summer dusk to come;
And lingered there to watch the sky
Up which the gradual splendor clomb.
A tree-toad quavered in a tree;
And then a sudden whippoorwill
Called overhead, so wildly shrill
The sleeping wood, it seemed to me,
Cried out and then again was still.
Then through dark boughs its stealthy flight
An owl took; and, at drowsy strife,
The cricket tuned its faery fife;
And like a ghost-flower, silent white,
The wood-moth glimmered into life.
And in the dead wood everywhere
The insects ticked, or bored below
The rotted bark; and, glow on glow,
The lambent fireflies here and there
Lit up their jack-o'-lantern show.
I heard a vesper-sparrow sing,
Withdrawn, it seemed, into the far
Slow sunset's tranquil cinnabar;
The crimson, softly smoldering
Behind the trees, with its one star.
A dog barked: and down ways that gleamed,
Through dew and clover, faint the noise
Of cowbells moved. And then a voice,
That sang a-milking, so it seemed,
Made glad my heart as some glad boy's.
And then the lane: and, full in view,
A farmhouse with its rose-grown gate,
And honeysuckle paths, await
For night, the moon, and love and you -
These are the things that made me late.