Last Songs from Vagabondia

by Bliss Carman and Richard Hovey



On the publication of "Patrins," by Louise Imogen Guiney.


IF I should wander out some afternoon
About the end of May or early June,
And at a crossroads in the hills discover
A spray of apple or a sprig of clover,

Set for a sign to tell who went that way,

Which road he took and how he fared that day,
"Ho, ho," I’d whistle, "here’s a gipsy token,
As plain as if the very word were spoken."

Then down I turn, hot foot, and off I trudge
Hard on his trail, while sceptics mutter, "Fudge!"

They know the way, these travel-wise Egyptians,
And I—enough to follow their inscriptions.

So, bless you! in a mile or two at most,
I’ve overtaken, almost passed, my host
Camped in the finest grove in all the county

And bidding me to supper on his bounty.

There’s nothing like a bit of open sky
To give a touch of poetry to pie;
And here’s a poem (call it Sphinx in Myrtle)
Would make an alderman forget his turtle.


Now, there’s a Romany in Auburndale,
Wild as a faun and sound as cakes and ale,
One of the tribe of Stevenson and Borrow,
Who live to-day and let alone to-morrow.

(God keeps a few still living in the sun,—

The man who wrote The Seven Seas, for one,
And Island Stoddard,—just to prove the folly
Of smug repose and pious melancholy.)

So when I see her signal in the hedge,
(I mean her new book on the counter’s edge,)

"Ho, ho," say I, "that Guiney’s broken loose again,
Cut a new quill and put her craft to use again."

Enough for me! I’m off. And, fellows all,
Who could resist the Auburndalean call
To go a-foraging? That’s what the spring’s for,

What bards have wits and bumblebees have wings for.

I’ll warrant here’s a road to Arcady
With goodly cheer and merry company,
Skirting the pleasant foot-hills of Philosophy,
Far from the quaggy marshes of Theosophy.


O for the trail, wherever it may lead,
From small credulity to larger creed,
Till we behold this world without detraction
As God did seven times with satisfaction!