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Songs from Vagabondia

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Off with the fettersThat chafe and restrain!Off with the chain!Here Art and Letters,Music and wine,And Myrtle and Wanda,The winsome witches,Blithely combine.Here are true riches,Here is Golconda,Here are the Indies,Here we are free—Free as the wind is,Free, as the sea.Free!Houp-la!What have weTo do with the wayOf the Pharisee?We go or we stayAt our own sweet will;We think as we say,And we say or keep stillAt our own sweet will,At our own sweet will.Here we are freeTo be good or bad,Sane or mad,Merry or grimAs the mood may be,—Free as the whimOf a spook on a spree,—Free to be oddities,Not mere commodities,Stupid and salable,Wholly available,Ranged upon shelves;Each with his puny formIn the same uniform,Cramped and disabled;We are not labelled,We are ourselves.Here is the real,Here the ideal;Laughable hardshipMet and forgot,Glory of bardship—World's bloom and world's blot;The shock and the jostle,The mock and the push,But hearts like the throstleA-joy in the bush;Wits that would merrilyLaugh away wrong,Throats that would verilyMelt Hell in Song.What though the dimes beElusive as rhymes be,And Bessie, with fingerUplifted, is warningThat breakfast next morning(A subject she's scorning)Is mighty uncertain!What care we? LingerA moment to kiss—No time's amissTo a vagabond's ardor—Thee finish the larderAnd pull down the curtain.Unless ere the kiss come,Black Richard or Bliss come,Or Tom with a flagon,Or Karl with a jag on—Then up and afterThe joy of the nightWith the hounds of laughterTo follow the flightOf the fox-foot hoursThat double and runThrough brakes and bowersOf folly and fun.With the comrade heartFor a moment's play,And the comrade heartFor a heavier day,And the comrade heartForever and aye.For the joy of wineIs not for long;And the joy of songIs a dream of shine;But the comrade heartShall outlast artAnd a woman's loveThe fame thereof.But wine for a signOf the love we bring!And song for an oathThat Love is king!And both, and bothFor his worshipping!Then up and awayTill the break of day,With a heart that's merry,And a Tom-and-Jerry,And a derry-down-derry—What's that you say.You highly respectableBuyers and sellers?We should be decenter?Not as we please interCustom, frugality,Use and moralityIn the delectableDepths of wine-cellars?Midnights of revel,And noondays of song!Is it so wrong?Go to the Devil!I tell you that we,While you are smirkingAnd lying and shirkinglife's duty of duties,Honest sincerity,We are in verityFree!Free to rejoiceIn blisses and beauties!Free as the voiceOf the wind as it passes!Free as the birdIn the weft of the grasses!Free as the wordOf the sun to the sea—Free!


Do you know what it is to be vagrant born?A waif is only a waif. And so,For another idle hour I sit,In large content while the fire burns low.I gossip here to my crony heartOf the day just over, and count it oneOf the royal elemental days,Though its dreams were few and its deeds were none.Outside, the winter; inside, the warmthAnd a sweet oblivion of turmoil. Why?All for a gentle girlish handWith its warm and lingering good-bye.


Now the joys of the road are chiefly these:A crimson touch on the hard-wood trees;A vagrant's morning wide and blue,In early fall when the wind walks, too;A shadowy highway cool and brown,Alluring up and enticing downFrom rippled water to dappled swamp,From purple glory to scarlet pomp;The outward eye, the quiet will,And the striding heart from hill to hill;The tempter apple over the fence;The cobweb bloom on the yellow quince;The palish asters along the wood,—A lyric touch of the solitude;An open hand, an easy shoe.And a hope to make the day go through,—Another to sleep with, and a thirdTo wake me up at the voice of a bird;The resonant far-listening morn,And the hoarse whisper of the corn;The crickets mourning their comrades lost,In the night's retreat from the gathering frost;(Or is it their slogan, plaintive and shrill,As they beat on their corselets, valiant still?)A hunger fit for the kings of the sea,And a loaf of bread for Dickon and me;A thirst like that of the Thirsty Sword,And a jug of cider on the board;An idle noon, a bubbling spring,The sea in the pine-tops murmuring;A scrap of gossip at the ferry;A comrade neither glum nor merry,Asking nothing, revealing naught,But minting his words from a fund of thought,A keeper of silence eloquent,Needy, yet royally well content,Of the mettled breed, yet abhorring strife,And full of the mellow juice of life;A taster of wine, with an eye for a maid,Never too bold, and never afraid,Never heart-whole, never heart-sick,(These are the things I worship in Dick)No fidget and no reformer, justA calm observer of ought and must,A lover of books, but a reader of man,No cynic and no charlatan,Who never defers and never demands,But, smiling, takes the world in his hands,—Seeing it good as when God first sawAnd gave it the weight of his will for law.And O the joy that is never won,But follows and follows the journeying sun,By marsh and tide, by meadow and stream,A will-o'-the-wind, a light-o'-dream,Delusion afar, delight anear,From morrow to morrow, from year to year,A jack-o'-lantern, a fairy fire,A dare, a bliss, and a desire!The racy smell of the forest loam,When the stealthy, sad-heart leaves go home;(O leaves, O leaves, I am one with you,Of the mould and the sun and the wind and the dew!)The broad gold wake of the afternoon;The silent fleck of the cold new moon;The sound of the hollow sea's releaseFrom stormy tumult to starry peace;With only another league to wend;And two brown arms at the journey's end...!