The Charcoal-Burner's Hut

A poem by Madison Julius Cawein

Deep in a valley, green with ancient beech,
And wandered through of one small, silent stream,
Whose bear-grassed banks bristled with brush and burr,
Tick-trefoil and the thorny marigold,
Bush-clover and the wahoo, hung with pods,
And mass on mass of bugled jewelweed,
Horsemint and doddered ragweed, dense, unkempt,
I came upon a charcoal-burner's hut,
Abandoned and forgotten long ago;
His hut and weedy pit, where once the wood
Smouldered both day and night like some wild forge,
A wildwood forge, glaring as wild-cat eyes.

A mossy roof, black, fallen in decay,
And rotting logs, exuding sickly mold
And livid fungi, and the tottering wreck,
Rude remnants, of a chimney, clay and sticks,
Were all that now remained to say that once,
In time not so remote, one labored here,
Labored and lived, his world bound by these woods:
A solitary soul whose life was toil,
Toil, grimy and unlovely: sad, recluse,
A life, perhaps, that here went out alone,
Alone and unlamented.

Lost forever,
Haply, somewhere, in some far wilder spot,
Far in the forest, lone as was his life,
A grave, an isolated grave, may mark,
Tangled with cat-brier and the strawberry-bush,
The place he lies in; undistinguishable
From the surrounding forest where the lynx
Whines in the moonlight and the she-fox whelps.
A life as some wood-fungus now forgotten:
The Indian-pipe, or ghost-flower, here that rises
And slowly rots away in autumn rains.

Or, it may be, a comrade carved a line
Of date and death on some old trunk of tree,
Whose letters long ago th' erasing rust
Of moss and gradual growth of drowsy years
Slowly obliterated: or, may be,
The rock, all rudely lettered, like his life,
Set up above him by some kindly hand,
A tree's great, grasping roots have overthrown,
Where lichens long ago effaced his name.

Reader Comments

Tell us what you think of 'The Charcoal-Burner's Hut' by Madison Julius Cawein

comments powered by Disqus

Home | Search | About this website | Contact | Privacy Policy