The Tollman's Daughter

A poem by Madison Julius Cawein

She stood waist-deep among the briers:
Above in twisted lengths were rolled
The sunset's tangled whorls of gold,
Blown from the west's cloud-pillared fires.

And in the hush no sound did mar,
You almost heard o'er hill and dell,
Deep, bubbling over, star on star,
The night's blue cisterns slowly well.

A crane, like some dark crescent, crossed
The sunset, winging towards the west;
While up the east her silver breast
Of light the moon brought, white as frost.

So have I painted her, you see,
The tollman's daughter. What an arm
And throat was hers! and what a form!
Art dreams of such divinity.

What braids of night to hold and kiss!
There is no pigment anywhere
A man might use to picture this
The splendour of her raven hair.

A face as beautiful and bright,
As rosy fair as twilight skies,
Lit with the stars of hazel eyes
And eyebrowed black with pencilled night.

For her, I know, where'er she trod
Each dewdrop raised a looking-glass
To flash her beauty from the grass;
That wild-flowers bloomed along the sod,

And whispered perfume when she smiled;
The wood-bird hushed to hear her song,
Or, all enamoured, tame, not wild,
Before her feet flew fluttering long.

The brook went mad with melody,
Eddied in laughter when she kissed
With naked feet its amethyst
And I I fell in love; ah me!

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