Monday, 10 August 2015

Poetry Revisited: The Rain-Crow by Madison Julius Cawein

The Rain-Crow

(from Myth and Romance, Being a Book of Verse: 1899)

I
Can freckled August,—drowsing warm and blonde
     Beside a wheat-shock in the white-topped mead,
In her hot hair the oxeyed daisies wound,—
     O bird of rain, lend aught but sleepy heed
     To thee? when no plumed weed, no feather'd seed
Blows by her; and no ripple breaks the pond,
     That gleams like flint between its rim of grasses,
     Through which the dragonfly forever passes
                    Like splintered diamond.

II
Drouth weights the trees, and from the farmhouse eaves
     The locust, pulse-beat of the summer day,
Throbs; and the lane, that shambles under leaves
     Limp with the heat—a league of rutty way—
     Is lost in dust; and sultry scents of hay
Breathe from the panting meadows heaped with sheaves—
     Now, now, O bird, what hint is there of rain,
     In thirsty heaven or on burning plain,
                   That thy keen eye perceives?

III
But thou art right. Thou prophesiest true.
     For hardly hast thou ceased thy forecasting,
When, up the western fierceness of scorched blue,
     Great water-carrier winds their buckets bring
     Brimming with freshness. How their dippers ring
And flash and rumble! lavishing dark dew
     On corn and forestland, that, streaming wet,
     Their hilly backs against the downpour set,
                    Like giants vague in view.

IV
The butterfly, safe under leaf and flower,
     Has found a roof, knowing how true thou art;
The bumble-bee, within the last half-hour,
     Has ceased to hug the honey to its heart;
     While in the barnyard, under shed and cart,
Brood-hens have housed.—But I, who scorned thy power,
     Barometer of the birds,—like August there,—
     Beneath a beech, dripping from foot to hair,
                    Like some drenched truant, cower.

Madison Julius Cawein
(1865-1914)

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