Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, TO A HERMIT THRUSH, by OLIVE TILFORD DARGAN

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Classic and Contemporary Poetry

TO A HERMIT THRUSH, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Dweller among leaves, and shining twilight boughs
Last Line: My wings must fail e'en with my song.
Alternate Author Name(s): Burke, Fielding
Subject(s): Birds; Nature; Thrushes

DWELLER among leaves, and shining twilight boughs
That fold cool arms about thine altar place,
What joyous race
Of gods dost serve with such unfaltering vows?

Weave me a time-fringed tale
Of slumbering, haunted trees,
And star-sweet fragrances
No day defiled;
Of bowering nights innumerable,
And nestling hours breath-nigh a dryad's heart
That sleeping yet was wild
With dream-beat that thou mad'st a part
Of thy dawn-fluting; ay, and keep'st it still,
Striving so late these godless woods to fill
With undefeated strain,
And in one hour build the old world again.
Wast thou found singing when Diana drew
Her skirts from the first night?
Didst feel the sun-breath when the valleys grew
Warm with the love of light,
Till blades of flower-lit green gave to the wind
The mystery that made sweet
The earth forever,—stranger and undefined
As life, as God, as this thy song complete
That holds with me twin memories
Of time ere men,
And ere our ways
Lay sundered with the abyss of air between?

List, I will lay
The world, my song,
Deep in the heart of day,
Day that is long
As the ages dream or the stars delay!
Keep thou from me,
Sigh-throated man,
Forever to be
Under the songless wanderer's ban.
I am of time
That counteth no dawn;
They æons yet climb
To skies I have won,
Seeking for aye an unrisen sun!

Soft as a shadow slips
Before the moon, I creep beneath the trees,
Even to the boughs whose lowest circling tips
Whisper with the anemones
Thick-strewn as though a cloud had made
Its drifting way through spray and leafy braid
And sunk with unremembering ease
To humbler heaven upon the mossy heaps.
And here a warmer flow
Urges thy melody, yet keeps
The cool of bowers; as might a rose blush through
Its unrelinquished dew;
Or bounteous heart that knows not woe,
Put on the robe of sighs, and fain
Would hold in love's surmise a neighbour's pain.

Ah, I have wronged thee, sprite!
So tender now thy song in flight,
So sweet its lingerings are,
It seems the liquid memory
Of time when thou didst try
The gleaning wing through human years,
And met, ay, knew the sigh
Of men who pray, the tears
That hide the woman's star,
The brave ascending fire
That is youth's beacon and too soon his pyre,—
Yea, all our striving, bateless and unseeing,
That builds each day our Heaven new.
More deep in time's unnearing blue,
Farther and ever fleeing
The dream that ever must pursue.

Heart-need is sorest
When the song dies:
Come to the forest,
Brother of the sighs.
Heart-need is song-need,
Brother, give me thine!
song-meed is heart-meed,
Brother, take mine!
I go the still way,
Cover me with night;
Thou goest the will way
Into the light.
Dust and the burden
Thou shalt outrun;
Bear then my guerdon,
Song, to the sun!

O little pagan with the heart of Christ,
I go bewildered from thine altar place,
These brooding boughs and grey-lit forest wings,
Nor know if thou deniest
My destiny and race,
Man's goalward falterings,
To sing the perfect joy that lay
Along the path we missed somewhere,
That led thee to thy home in air,
While we, soil-creepers, bruise our way
Toward heights and sunrise bounds
That wings may know nor feet may win
For all their scars, for all their wounds;
Or have I heard within thy strain
Not sorrow's self, but sorrowing
That thou did'st seek the way more free,
Nor took with us the trail of pain
That endeth not, e'er widening
To life that knows what Life may be;
And ere thou fall'st to silence long
Would golden parting fling:

Go, man through death unto thy star;
I journey not so far;
My wings must fail e'en with my song.

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