Rain In The Woods

A poem by Madison Julius Cawein

When on the leaves the rain persists,
And every gust brings showers down;
When all the woodland smokes with mists,
I take the old road out of town
Into the hills through which it twists.

I find the vale where catnip grows,
Where boneset blooms, with moisture bowed;
The vale through which the red creek flows,
Turbid with hill-washed clay, and loud
As some wild horn a hunter blows.

Around the root the beetle glides,
A living beryl; and the ant,
Large, agate-red, a garnet, slides
Beneath the rock; and every plant
Is roof for some frail thing that hides.

Like knots against the trunks of trees
The lichen-colored moths are pressed;
And, wedged in hollow blooms, the bees
Seem clots of pollen; in its nest
The wasp has crawled and lies at ease.

The locust harsh, that sharply saws
The silence of the summer noon;
The katydid that thinly draws
Its fine file o'er the bars of moon;
And grasshopper that drills each pause:

The mantis, long-clawed, furtive, lean
Fierce feline of the insect hordes
And dragonfly, gauze-winged and green,
Beneath the wild-grape's leaves and gourd's,
Have housed themselves and rest unseen.

The butterfly and forest-bird
Are huddled on the same gnarled bough,
From which, like some rain-voweled word
That dampness hoarsely utters now,
The tree-toad's voice is vaguely heard.

I crouch and listen; and again
The woods are filled with phantom forms
With shapes, grotesque in mystic train,
That rise and reach to me cool arms
Of mist; the wandering wraiths of rain.

I see them come; fantastic, fair;
Chill, mushroom-colored: sky and earth
Grow ghostly with their floating hair
And trailing limbs, that have their birth.
In wetness fungi of the air.

O wraiths of rain! O ghosts of mist!
Still fold me, hold me, and pursue!
Still let my lips by yours be kissed!
Still draw me with your hands of dew
Unto the tryst, the dripping tryst.

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