The trains have come and gone. The day is still
and in the heavy air no breezes blow;
The sun sinks silently below the hill
and streetlights cast a faded orange glow.
Through darkened doorways, all the silent shelves
stand waiting for tomorrow, swept and neat;
The neon signs blink "Welcome" to themselves
and shuttered windows watch the empty street.
What train will bear me from this alien land
and back to what I used to know before?
What train will come to take me home again?
How do I know where "home" is anymore?
I stand long-shadowed in the setting sun;
The trains have come and gone. The day is done.
Today, the leaves lie bronze upon the ground
The air is cold and silver with our breath
Departing geese above us circle round
To say farewell before the summer's death.
Nothing is permanent, and nothing lasts;
Summer, and life, and even love must die
What use is hope? It too will soon be past:
A smoke-trail in a greying autumn sky.
And yet--the frost has not yet taken hold;
A late south wind has blown the clouds away
And set the leaves to dancing, red and gold,
And who could ever cry on such a day?
Here, now, we lie beneath a spreading tree
And I am here, and you are here with me.
Calling To The Wind
And softly down the mountainside
Through pine trees perched in straggling rows
Where hunting hawks and eagles glide
Upon the air--a cold wind blows.
A north wind blows! The evening falls:
The trees are bare, the birds have fled,
The winds sweeps down the rocky walls
On wings of winter heralded.
The evening falls. The night descends;
The rushing clouds conceal the moon;
The tree outside my window bends
And sighs: it will be winter soon.
I hear the wind. It calls my name
With rustling voice of leaf and tree
And somehow, still, it sounds the same
In this far place beyond the sea
As in my home. The north winds blow
(Not quite the same, for I forget:
This season, there, it brings the snow
But here no snow has fallen yet).
North wind that cries in lonely flight
I wish I had your restless wings
That I might fly with you tonight
Back there to old familiar things--
But not just yet; I will not go.
Though distant by ten thousand miles,
This too is home. Cold wind and snow,
Blow on without me for awhile.
Bring ice and snow, blow strong, fly far
Across the sky, across the sea
Back where my friends and family are--
No news have you to tell of me.
In spring, though, you will bring them rain
Across the silver-crested foam
Across the mountain and the plain
Once in the long
Half-silvered shade of the mountain
Aimee came running bright-haired and clench-fisted down
From the harbour hill
Holding a half-dozen
Daisies in her baby-fat palms, barefoot and laughing
Aimee ran past me; I called;
She answered me, and we ran down together.
Once in the rainy
Brisk autumn the year we were eight
Aimee the half-wild child that would not do sums
Asked me if we would get married someday
The recess bell
Rang as a backdrop to laughter
And Aimee, who had forgotten to place her shoes
Neatly in the cupboard, was shouted at
Again, and I sat at my desk,
Hands folded, eyes forward
Once in the twelfth
Year of our days in the schoolhouse
Aimee came crying slow-footed and clench-fisted down
From the harbour hill
Holding a half-dozen
Letters from universities regretting to inform her
That she did not meet their standards so sorry goodbye
Aimee walked past me; I called;
She said nothing, and I let her pass.
Once at the darkest
Cloud-splintered hour of the morning
I came to the harbour, saw the lights
At the end of the pier, and the lanterns
Shining, and I
Stood on the boardwalk, listening to the wind and the distant
Hum of the highway. And Aimee
Rippled like a star
And rocked back and forth amid the peaceful reeds.
Flowers on the hillside--I walked in the morning
On green spreading grass, over field, over hill,
The sky was as blue as the wind in the summer
The clouds in the soft air were lazy and still.
And there where I stood I could hear the birds singing
Of fledglings and flying, of courting and love
They fluttered and flew, and as one they were happy
And songs drifted out of the trees far above.
Sun in the treetops--I walked in the daylight
By tall oak and maple, and old willow tree
Through pine-grove and elm-stand--I stopped there in wonder;
It seemed that the trees, too, were singing to me
Of wind in the branches, of green leaves unfurling,
Of sunlight and moonlight, and soft summer rain,
Slow growing, deep roots, bitter frost and bright water,
Springtime and autumn, and springtime again.
Stars on the river--I walked in the evening
Where water flowed silver from high rocky lands
Stone-song and river-song, out of slow memory
Out of the hills where the music began.
Old though the hills were, and older the water,
The song that they sang was more ancient than they:
Music from out of the roots of the mountains,
Out of the mists of the very first day.
Old songs and new songs--I walked in the darkness
Past flowers and rivers, and trees and old stone
On bridges and well-trodden pathways I wandered
Following roads that would lead me back home.
Candles and lamplight shone gold in the windows
And voices and laughter ran out, high and deep
The most perfect joy is kind hearts and kind faces
And firelight and starlight to sing me to sleep.
The ravens and the hunting owls call
Above the castle in the mournful night--
This crumbling weed-choked ruin, and their flight
Echoes and echoes in the empty halls.
But look! A single shaft of moonlight falls
And there, transfixed as by a spear of light
Thrown down from some unseen and lofty height,
A man stands motionless atop the wall.
And now another, silent sword raised high,
Now ten, now twenty, more and ever more,
Sharp shadows lifting up against the sky
A silver wave upon an alien shore.
The owls shriek--no, tis a different cry:
The trumpet sounds to call them back to war.
The grass grows long, both on the seaward hill
And inland, east a thousand miles and more;
Tonight the air is sweet, though never still,
Where slopes the land down softly to the shore.
The autumn storms are still a month away;
Beneath the moon the sea is clear as glass
And summer winds blow south and east, and play
With shadows on a thousand miles of grass.
From high above, between the wave and star
The ocean and the plain look much the same:
A dark expanse, an endless rippling sea
And neither man nor beast, nor stone, nor tree,
Nor any other thing, has any claim
Upon this place where wind and moonlight are.
Point of View
And through the window of the train
The same today as every day
I see the trees go by again
In their unchanging treelike way.
The old oaks keep a plodding pace
The maples march, as maples will,
While birch and beech and hawthorne race
And lightly leap from hill to hill.
They pass before the sunset sky
And swiftly they are past and gone;
I watch them through the glass, and I
Am still; the trees march ever on.
The rain is falling on the town
on doors and walls and windowpanes
and twinkling droplets trickle down
from eaves of roofs and towers;
The rills of water, here and there,
make brooks and rivers in the lanes
and turn the roads to silver, where
umbrellas sprout like flowers;
The rain is falling on the hill
and on the treetops all around
it skips and wanders where it will
through places high and deep;
At dusk it shines like silver thread
and with a laughing, whispering sound
it calls the wood-beasts to their bed
and sings the trees to sleep;
The rain is falling on the sea
and unders clouds the waves are high
and stars are hid, but sailors see
the lighthouse beacon gleaming;
Softly the rain is growing less--
at midnight it begins to die--
the moon is shining in the west
on silver water streaming;
The rain has fallen on the land
and on the sea and on the air
on child and beast and bird and man
on town and wood and lake;
Beneath the darkness, all unseen
the world is sparkling, new and fair:
the rain has come and washed it clean
and waits for it to wake.