The Naiad

A poem by Madison Julius Cawein

She sits among the iris stalks
Of babbling brooks; and leans for hours
Among the river's lily flowers,
Or on their whiteness walks:
Above dark forest pools, gray rocks
Wall in, she leans with dripping locks,
And listening to the echo, talks
With her own face Iothera.
There is no forest of the hills,
No valley of the solitude,
Nor fern nor moss, that may elude
Her searching step that stills:
She dreams among the wild-rose brakes
Of fountains that the ripple shakes,
And, dreaming of herself, she fills
The silence with 'Iothera.'
And every wind that haunts the ways
Of leaf and bough, once having kissed
Her virgin nudity, goes whist
With wonder and amaze.
There blows no breeze which hath not learned
Her name's sweet melody, and yearned
To kiss her mouth that laughs and says,
'Iothera, Iothera.'
No wild thing of the wood, no bird,
Or brown or blue, or gold or gray,
Beneath the sun's or moonlight's ray,
That hath not loved and heard;
They are her pupils; she can say
No new thing but, within a day,
They have its music, word for word,
Harmonious as Iothera.
No man who lives and is not wise
With love for common flowers and trees,
Bee, bird, and beast, and brook, and breeze,
And rocks and hills and skies,
Search where he will, shall ever see
One flutter of her drapery,
One glimpse of limbs, or hair, or eyes
Of beautiful Iothera.

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