The Old Lane

A poem by Madison Julius Cawein

An old, lost lane; where can it lead?
To stony pastures, where the weed
Purples its plume, or sails its seed:
And from one knoll, the vetch makes green,
Trailing its glimmering ribbon on,
Under deep boughs, a creek is seen,
Flecked with the silver of the dawn.

An old, green lane; where can it go?
Into the valley-land below,
Where red the wilding lilies blow:
Where, under willows, shadowy grey,
The blue-crane wades, the heron glides;
And in each pool the minnows sway,
Twinkling their slim and silvery sides.

An old, railed lane; where does it end?
Beyond the log-bridge at the bend,
Towards which our young feet used to wend:
Where, 'neath a dappled sycamore,
The old mill thrashed its foaming wheel,
And, smiling, at its corn-strewn door
The miller leant all white with meal.

An old, wild lane; I know it well:
The creek, the bridge across the dell:
The old house on the orchard-swell:
The pine-board porch above the creek,
Where oft we used to sit and dream,
Two children, fair of hair and cheek,
Dropping our flowers in the stream.

An old, old lane; I follow it
In fancy; and, where branches knit,
Behold a boy and girl who sit
Beside the mill-dam near the mill;
Or in a flat-boat, old and worn,
Oar lilyward. I see them still
Her dress is rent, his trousers torn.

An old, lost lane. Come, let us find,
As here I have it in my mind,
As boyhood left it far behind!
Yes; let us follow it again,
And meet her, wild of foot and hair,
The tomboy, sweet as sun and rain,
Whom once we worshipped to despair.

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