Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE FLUTE-PLAYER, by MAXWELL STRUTHERS BURT



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THE FLUTE-PLAYER, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: There comes a day when april's in and spring walks
Last Line: They die in the echoes down the hollow.
Alternate Author Name(s): Burt, Struthers
Subject(s): Flutes; Singing & Singers; Spring; Songs


THERE comes a day when April's in and Spring walks down the city street,
And barrel organs, everywhere,
Make songs for little children's feet;
And, O, the chestnut trees are sweet!
The crocus blossoms in the square —
'Till suddenly as breath o' pain you catch the flute notes here and there:
A single note! Another higher!
Up to the gray cathedral spire!
Elusive as a skylark winging:
And the heart of you goes out in singing.

Just a moment, and they are still; but all the hours are gay with light;
The stars creep out in purple skies
And yellow lanterns jewel the night
Where hansoms flit to left and right
Like huge enamored fireflies.
Young voices stir the lilac dusk with murmur, laughter, fall and rise;
And once again, where the shade lies thick,
You hear the flute notes, cool and quick!
A silver call — a demi-quaver,
The shyest, happiest, quaintest flavor!

They say that oftentime in June, when roses deck the quickset hedge,
A lover and his lass will note
Far off, beside the river's edge,
Amidst the purple-irised sedge,
The glimmer of a pyed gold coat,
And on their ears a fluting fall as soft as from a black bird's throat;
Then he will think her fair as flowers,
May dawn, June rivers, August showers;
And both young hearts will set a-beating
As on the eve of their first meeting.

And once I saw, when Winter blew the sun behind a saffron sky,
From out the shadow of a thorn
The twinkle of a watching eye —
Outrageous humorous and sly —
Above a gold coat gay and torn;
And heard within, without, beyond; — a pipe, a bird, a flute, a horn;
A singing underneath the snow —
How could I tell, my heart beat so?
But that was when from oversea
My dear love had come home to me.

Once, long ago, the story runs, a rich man tried to catch the fellow;
He set a feast out on the grass,
And piled the cloth with sovereigns yellow,
And wine of vintage extra mellow;
But no one ever came, alas!
So evening fell and moth-winged night, and dawn, when little swallows pass:
There grew a knocking at his gate,
"Be quick! Your brother dieth straight!"
And this is strange but past refuting,
Beside the dead, he heard the fluting!

Ah, none can ever capture him, nor over here, nor over there,
He comes when only so he wills,
And answers never a single prayer
Of beggarman or Rajah's heir.
Till one fine day his music thrills,
When least expected, over the hills:
"Over the hills and far away!
We'll find the dawn," the flute notes say;
But, ah, should one set out to follow,
They die in the echoes down the hollow.





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