A Rhyme Of The Roads

Don Marquis

Pearl-Slashed and purple and crimson and
    fringed with gray mist of the hills,
The pennons of morning advance to the music of
    rock-fretted rills,
The dumb forest quickens to song, and the little
    gusts shout as they fling
A floor-cloth of orchard bloom down for the flash-
    ing, quick feet of the Spring.

To the road, gipsy-heart, thou and I!  ’Tis the
    mad piper, Spring, who is leading;
’Tis the pulse of his piping that throbs through
    the brain, irresistibly pleading;
Full-blossomed, deep-bosomed, fain woman, light-
    footed, lute-throated and fleet,
We have drunk of the wine of this Wanderer’s song;
    let us follow his feet!

Like raveled red girdles flung down by some
    hoidenish goddess in mirth
The tangled roads reach from rim unto utter-
    most rim of the earth—
We will weave of these strands a strong net, we
    will snare the bright wings of delight,—
We will make of these strings a sweet lute that
    will shame the low wind-harps of night.

The clamor of tongues and the clangor of trades
    in the peevish packed street,
The arrogant, jangling Nothings, with iterant, dis-
    sonant beat,
The clattering, senseless endeavor with dross of
    mere gold for its goal,
These have sickened the senses and wearied the
    brain and straitened the soul.

“Come forth and be cleansed of the folly of strife
    for things worthless of strife,
Come forth and gain life and grasp God by fore-
    going gains worthless of life”—

It was thus spake the wizard wildwood, low-
    voiced to the hearkening heart,
It was thus sang the jovial hills, and the harper
    sun bore part.

O woman, whose blood as my blood with the fire
    of the Spring is aflame,
We did well, when the red roads called, that we
    heeded the call and came—
Came forth to the sweet wise silence where soul
    may speak sooth unto soul,
Vine-wreathed and vagabond Love, with the goal
    of Nowhere for our goal!

What planet-crowned Dusk that wanders the
    steeps of our firmament there
Hath gems that may match with the dew-opals
    meshed in thine opulent hair?
What wind-witch that skims the curled billows
    with feet they are fain to caress
Hath sandals so wing’d as thine art with a god-
    like carelessness?

And dare we not dream this is heaven?—to wan-
    der thus on, ever on.
Through the hush-heavy valleys of space, up the
    flushing red slopes of the dawn?—
For none that seeks rest shall find rest till he
    ceaseth his striving for rest,
And the gain of the quest is the joy of the road
    that allures to the quest.

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