Two angry men—in heat they sever,
And one goes home by a harvest field:—
“Hope’s nought,” quoth he, “and vain endeavor;
I said and say it, I will not yield!
“As for this wrong, no art can mend it,
The bond is shiver’d that held us twain;
Old friends we be, but law must end it,
Whether for loss or whether for gain.
“Yon stream is small—full slow its
But winning is sweet, but right is fine;
And shoal of trout, or willowy bending—
Though Law be costly—I’ll prove them mine.
“His strawberry cow slipped loose her tether,
And trod the best of my barley down;
His little lasses at play together
Pluck’d the poppies my boys had grown.
“What then?—Why naught! She
lack’d of reason;
And they—my little ones match them well:—
But this—Nay all things have their season,
And ’tis my season to curb and quell.”
So saith he, when noontide fervors flout him,
So thinks, when the West is amber and red,
When he smells the hop-vines sweet about him,
And the clouds are rosy overhead.
While slender and tall the hop-poles going
Straight to the West in their leafy lines,
Portion it out into chambers, glowing,
And bask in red day as the sun declines.
Between the leaves in his latticed arbor
He sees the sky, as they flutter and turn,
While moor’d like boats in a golden harbor
The fleets of feathery cloudlets burn.
Withdrawn in shadow, he thinketh over
Harsh thoughts, the fruit-laden trees among,
Till pheasants call their young to cover,
And cushats coo them a nursery song.
And flocks of ducks forsake their sedges,
Wending home to the wide barn-door,
And loaded wains between the hedges
Slowly creep to his threshing floor—
Slowly creep. And his tired senses,
Float him over the magic stream,
To a world where Fancy recompenses
Vengeful thoughts, with a troubled dream!
What’s this? a wood—What’s
that? one calleth,
Calleth and cryeth in mortal dread—
He hears men strive—then somewhat falleth!—
“Help me, neighbor—I’m hard bestead.”
The dream is strong—the voice he knoweth—
But when he would run, his feet are fast,
And death lies beyond, and no man goeth
To help, and he says the time is past.
His feet are held, and he shakes all over,—
Nay—they are free—he has found the place—
Green boughs are gather’d—what is’t they cover?—
“I pray you, look on the dead man’s face;
“You that stand by,” he saith, and cowers—
“Man, or Angel, to guard the dead
With shadowy spear, and a brow that lowers,
And wing-points reared in the gloom o’erhead.—