A poem by Madison Julius Cawein


My soul goes out to her who says,
"Come, follow me and cast off care!"
Then tosses back her sun-bright hair,
And like a flower before me sways
Between the green leaves and my gaze:
This creature like a girl, who smiles
Into my eyes and softly lays
Her hand in mine and leads me miles,
Long miles of haunted forest ways.


Sometimes she seems a faint perfume,
A fragrance that a flower exhaled
And God gave form to; now, unveiled,
A sunbeam making gold the gloom
Of vines that roof some woodland room
Of boughs; and now the silvery sound
Of streams her presence doth assume -
Music, from which, in dreaming drowned,
A crystal shape she seems to bloom.


Sometimes she seems the light that lies
On foam of waters where the fern
Shimmers and drips; now, at some turn
Of woodland, bright against the skies,
She seems the rainbowed mist that flies;
And now the mossy fire that breaks
Beneath the feet in azure eyes
Of flowers; now the wind that shakes
Pale petals from the bough that sighs.


Sometimes she lures me with a song;
Sometimes she guides me with a laugh;
Her white hand is a magic staff,
Her look a spell to lead me long:
Though she be weak and I be strong,
She needs but shake her happy hair,
But glance her eyes, and, right or wrong,
My soul must follow - anywhere
She wills - far from the world's loud throng.


Sometimes I think that she must be
No part of earth, but merely this -
The fair, elusive thing we miss
In Nature, that we dream we see
Yet never see: that goldenly
Beckons; that, limbed with rose and pearl,
The Greek made a divinity: -
A nymph, a god, a glimmering girl,
That haunts the forest's mystery.

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