The Book of the Native

by Charles G.D. Roberts


The Muse and the Wheel


The poet took his wheel one day
    A-wandering to go,
But soon fell out beside the way,
    The leaves allured him so.

He leaned his wheel against a tree

    And in the shade lay down;
And more to him were bloom and bee
    Than all the busy town.

He listened to the Phœbe-bird
    And learned a thing worth knowing.

He lay so still he almost heard
    The merry grasses growing.

He lay so still he dropped asleep;
    And then the Muse came by.
The stars were in her garment’s sweep,

    But laughter in her eye.

"Poor boy!" she said, "how tired he seems!"
    His vagrant feet must follow
So many loves, so many dreams,—
    (To find them mostly hollow!)


"No marvel if he does not feel
    My old familiar nearness!"
And then her gaze fell on his wheel
    And wondered at its queerness.

"Can you be Pegasus," she mused,

    "To modern mood translated,
But poorly housed, and meanly used,
    And grown attenuated?

"Ah, no, you’re quite another breed
    From him who once would follow

Across the clear Olympian mead
    The calling of Apollo!

"No Hippocrene would leap to light
    If you should stamp your hoof.
You never knew the pastures bright

    Wherein we lie aloof.

"You never drank of Helicon,
    Or strayed in Tempe’s vale.
You never soared against the sun
    Till earth grew faint and pale.


"You bear my poor deluded boy
    Each latest love to see!
But Pegasus would mount with joy
    And bring him straight to me!"

He woke. The olden spell was strong

    Within his eager bosom;
And so he wrote a mystic song
    Upon the nearest blossom.

He wrote, until a sudden whim
    Set all his bosom trembling;

Then sped to woo a maiden slim
    His latest love resembling.