In Arcady, by Madison Cawein
I remember, when a child,
How within the April wild
Once I walked with Mystery
In the groves of Arcady….
Through the boughs, before, behind,
Swept the mantle of the wind,
Thunderous and unconfined.
Overhead the curving moon
Pierced the twilight: a cocoon,
Golden, big with unborn wings—
Beauty, shaping spiritual things,
Vague, impatient of the night,
Eager for its heavenward flight
Out of darkness into light.
Here and there the oaks assumed
Satyr aspects; shadows gloomed,
Hiding, of a dryad look;
And the naiad-frantic brook,
Crying, fled the solitude,
Filled with terror of the wood,
Or some faun-thing that pursued.
In the dead leaves on the ground
Crept a movement; rose a sound:
Everywhere the silence ticked
As with hands of things that picked
At the loam, or in the dew,—
Elvish sounds that crept or flew,—
Beak-like, pushing surely through.
Down the forest, overhead,
Stammering a dead leaf fled,
Filled with elemental fear
Of some dark destruction near—
One, whose glowworm eyes I saw
Hag with flame the crooked haw,
Which the moon clutched like a claw.
Gradually beneath the tree
Grew a shape; a nudity:
Lithe and slender; silent as
Growth of tree or blade of grass;
Brown and silken as the bloom
Of the trillium in the gloom,
Visible as strange perfume.
For an instant there it stood,
Smiling on me in the wood:
And I saw its hair was green
As the leaf-sheath, gold of sheen:
And its eyes an azure wet,
From within which seemed to jet
Sapphire lights and violet.
Swiftly by I saw it glide;
And the dark was deified:
Wild before it everywhere
Gleamed the greenness of its hair;
And around it danced a light,
Soft, the sapphire of its sight,
Making witchcraft of the night.
On the branch above, the bird
Trilled to it a dreamy word:
In its bud the wild bee droned
Honeyed greeting, drowsy-toned:
And the brook forgot the gloom,
Hushed its heart, and, wrapped in bloom,
Breathed a welcome of perfume.
To its beauty bush and tree
Stretched sweet arms of ecstasy;
And the soul within the rock
Lichen-treasures did unlock
As upon it fell its eye;
And the earth, that felt it nigh,
Into wildflowers seemed to sigh….
Was it dryad? was it faun?
Wandered from the times long gone.
Was it sylvan? was it fay?—
Dim survivor of the day
When Religion peopled streams,
Woods and rocks with shapes like gleams,—
That invaded then my dreams?
Was it shadow? was it shape?
Or but fancy's wild escape?—
Of my own child's world the charm
That assumed material form?—
Of my soul the mystery,
That the spring revealed to me,
There in long-lost Arcady?