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Green Fields and Running Brooks, and Other Poems

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  Ho! green fields and running brooks!  Knotted strings and fishing-hooks  Of the truant, stealing down  Weedy backways of the town.

  Where the sunshine overlooks,  By green fields and running brooks,  All intruding guests of chance  With a golden tolerance,

  Cooing doves, or pensive pair  Of picnickers, straying there—  By green fields and running brooks,  Sylvan shades and mossy nooks!

  And—O Dreamer of the Days,  Murmurer of roundelays  All unsung of words or books,  Sing green fields and running brooks!


  I come upon it suddenly, alone—    A little pathway winding in the weeds  That fringe the roadside; and with dreams my own,    I wander as it leads.

  Full wistfully along the slender way,    Through summer tan of freckled shade and shine,  I take the path that leads me as it may—    Its every choice is mine.

  A chipmunk, or a sudden-whirring quail,    Is startled by my step as on I fare—  A garter-snake across the dusty trail    Glances and—is not there.

  Above the arching jimson-weeds flare twos    And twos of sallow-yellow butterflies,  Like blooms of lorn primroses blowing loose    When autumn winds arise.

  The trail dips—dwindles—broadens then, and lifts    Itself astride a cross-road dubiously,  And, from the fennel marge beyond it, drifts    Still onward, beckoning me.

  And though it needs must lure me mile on mile    Out of the public highway, still I go,  My thoughts, far in advance in Indian-file,    Allure me even so.

  Why, I am as a long-lost boy that went    At dusk to bring the cattle to the bars,  And was not found again, though Heaven lent    His mother ail the stars

  With which to seek him through that awful night.    O years of nights as vain!—Stars never rise  But well might miss their glitter in the light    Of tears in mother-eyes!

  So—on, with quickened breaths, I follow still—    My avant-courier must be obeyed!  Thus am I led, and thus the path, at will,    Invites me to invade

  A meadow's precincts, where my daring guide    Clambers the steps of an old-fashioned stile,  And stumbles down again, the other side,    To gambol there awhile

  In pranks of hide-and-seek, as on ahead    I see it running, while the clover-stalks  Shake rosy fists at me, as though they said—    "You dog our country-walks

  And mutilate us with your walking-stick!—    We will not suffer tamely what you do  And warn you at your peril,—for we'll sic    Our bumble-bees on you!"

  But I smile back, in airy nonchalance,—    The more determined on my wayward quest,  As some bright memory a moment dawns    A morning in my breast—

  Sending a thrill that hurries me along    In faulty similes of childish skips,  Enthused with lithe contortions of a song    Performing on my lips....