THE LIGHT ON THE MARSH
The year grows on to harvest,
the tawny lilies burn
Along the marsh, and hillward the roads are sweet with fern.
All day the windless heaven pavilions the sea-blue,
Then twilight comes and drenches the sultry dells with dew.
The lone white star of evening comes out among the hills,
And in the darkling forest begin the whip-poor-wills.
The fireflies that wander, the hawks that flit and scream,
And all the wilding vagrants of summer dusk and dream,
Have all their will, and reck not of any after thing,
Inheriting no sorrow and no foreshadowing.
The wind forgets to whisper, the pines forget to moan,
And Malyn of the mountains is there among her own.
Malyn, whom grief nor wonder can trouble nevermore,
Since that spring night the Snowflake was wrecked beside her door,
And strange her cry went seaward once, and her soul thereon
With the vast lonely sea-winds, a wanderer, was gone.
But she, that patient beauty which is her body fair,
Endures on earth still lovely, untenanted of care.
The folk down at the harbor pity from day to day;
With a “God save you, Malyn!” they bid her on her way.
She smiles, poor feckless Malyn, the knowing smile of those
Whom the too sudden vision God sometimes may disclose
Of his wild, lurid world-wreck, has blinded with its sheen.
Then, with a fond insistence, pathetic and serene,
They pass among their fellows for lost minds none can save,
Bent on their single business, and marvel why men rave.
Now far away a sighing comes from the buried reef,
As though the sea were mourning above an ancient grief.
For once the restless Mother of all the weary lands
Went down to him in beauty, with trouble in her hands,
And gave to him forever all memory to keep,
But to her wayward children oblivion and sleep,
That no immortal burden might plague one living thing,
But death should sweetly visit us vagabonds of spring.
And so his heart forever goes inland with the tide,
Searching with many voices among the marshes wide.
Under the quiet starlight, up through the stirring reeds,
With whispering and lamenting it rises and recedes.
All night the lapsing rivers croon to their shingly bars
The wizardries that mingle the sea-wind and the stars.
And all night long wherever the moving waters gleam,
The little hills hearken, hearken, the great hills hear and dream.
And Malyn keeps the marshes all the sweet summer night,
Alone, foot-free, to follow a wandering wisp-light.
For every day at sundown, at the first beacon’s gleam,
She calls the gulls her brothers and keeps a tryst with them.