Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, AMBER LANDS, by TOM MACINNES

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Classic and Contemporary Poetry

AMBER LANDS, by                 Poet's Biography
First Line: In a luminous valley once I awoke
Last Line: Away and away in the amber lands!
Subject(s): Nature; Valleys


In a luminous valley once I awoke
To the amber sound of lutes;
And I ate of the bread of a sylvan folk,
With elvish herbs and savory roots,
And I drank of the innocent wines
Made by their maidens from mandarin fruits
Pluckt from low-lying luxurious vines
In the somnolent heart of the valley.

And the sylvan folk have a simple creed:
To make with their hands whatever they need,
And to live and be kind in the Sun:
To be one with the good brown Earth, and eat
Good things the Sun hath shone upon
Till they be ripe and sweet:
And watch the flocks meanwhile that feed
In the blue up-lands of the valley.

And aptly enough they sow and spin
In manner of antique industry,
And metals they mould and various glass
And motley pottery,
Taught by priests of a gentle class
In league with pale high Powers,
For whom they have builded singular towers
In a grove of cypress trees,—
Towers of granite and bronze, wherein
Magic they make and medicine,
Or busied with their dim auguries
The hollows of space and cycles immense
They measure with intricate instruments.

But I mind how more it pleasur'd me
In the drowsy grass for hours and hours
To lie with the faintly conscious flowers,
Far up on the slope of the valley;
Or run with the younger sylvan folk,
So handsome and sturdy they be,
At play in a forest of maple and oak,
A-romping healthily—
A-romping unkempt and all at their ease,
And kindly under the kindly trees
Doing whatever and ever they please
Consistent with courtesy.

O in youth I sail'd unusual seas,
And still I recall me lands like these,
Where they do whatever they please, dear Lord,
Whatever and ever they please!


Roaming I met the gentle maid
Whom forest-folk and hunters call
The Chatelaine of Ronzival.
'Twas under a cliff in the everglade
Where the icy waters bubble forth;
In velvet green was she array'd
After the fashion of the North:
O gentle maid, for thy heart's ease
Venture with me far over the seas!

There is a room in Ronzival
Rich with bronze, and panell'd all
In oak grown dull with time:
About the lancet windows there
Masses of ivy climb:
And some few roses, fair, O fair,
Wave in the Northern summer air!

The Sun was sinking thro' the pines,
While I was guest of the Chatelaine;
Ruddily in slanting lines
Thro' each lancet window-pane
It lit the panell'd inner wall
Of that room in Ronzival,
With its bronze and quaint designs
And stilted things armorial:
O gentle maid, for thy heart's ease,
Venture with me far over the seas!

At table by a window-seat
The gentle maid sat long with me,
And shyly of her courtesy
She bade me drink and eat;
Out of a hammer'd silver dish
She chose me cakes and comfits fine,
From a flagon twisted dragonish
She pour'd me amber wine.

O gentle maid, our game is play'd,
The dragon is calling, calling!—
While over the cliffs in the everglade
The lonely waters falling
Blanch at the sound, and shiver afraid,—
Aye, 'tis the dragon calling!

With chilling breath and bitter rime
Cometh soon the winter-time:
Ah, see how she hath grown so frail,
Her form so slight, her face so pale!
I fear the gnomes of Niffelheim
Will take her craftily,
And in a vault with marble stay'd,
Where long-forgotten saints have pray'd,
Her delicate body will be laid,
Cover'd with greenery:
While down the ragged silver steep
Where the gnomish waters creep
Somnolent, sonorous, deep,
With her ancient friends
Lost to thee her soul shall sleep
Till the legend ends!
Nay, gentle maid, for thy heart's ease,
Venture with me far over the seas,
And we shall go free of their wizard hands,
Away and away in the amber lands!

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