Beneath a bony buttonwood
The mill’s red door lets forth the din;
The whitened miller, dust-imbued, 15
Flits past the square of dark within.
No mountain torrent’s
strength is here;
Sweet Beaver, child of forest still,
Heaps its small pitcher to the ear,
And gently waits the miller’s will. 20
Swift slips Undine along the
Unheard, and then, with flashing bound,
Floods the dull wheel with light and grace,
And, laughing, hunts the loath drudge round.
The miller dreams not at what
The quivering millstones hum and whirl,
Nor how for every turn are tost
Armfuls of diamond and of pearl.
But Summer cleared my happier
With drops of some celestial juice, 30
To see how Beauty underlies,
Forevermore each form of use.
And more; methought I saw
Which now so dull and darkling steals,
Thick, here and there, with human blood, 35
To turn the world’s laborious wheels.
[Footnote 26: Beaver Brook was within walking distance of the poet’s home. See The Nightingale in the Study.]
No more than doth the miller
Shut in our several cells, do we
Know with what waste of beauty rare
Moves every day’s machinery. 40
Surely the wiser time shall
When this fine overplus of might,
No longer sullen, slow, and dumb,
Shall leap to music and to light.
In that new childhood of the
Life of itself shall dance and play,
Fresh blood in Time’s shrunk veins make mirth,
And labor meet delight half way.
There came a youth upon the
Some thousand years ago,
Whose slender hands were nothing worth,
Whether to plough, or reap, or sow.
Upon an empty tortoise-shell
He stretched some chords, and drew
Music that made men’s bosoms swell
Fearless, or brimmed their eyes with dew.
Then King Admetus, one who
Pure taste by right divine, 10
Decreed his singing not too bad
To hear between the cups of wine:
And so, well pleased with
Into a sweet half-sleep,
Three times his kingly beard he smoothed, 15
And made him viceroy o’er his sheep.
His words were simple words
And yet he used them so,
That what in other mouths was rough
In his seemed musical and low. 20