The Feast of Harvest

THE fair Earth smiled and turned herself and woke,
And to the Sun with nuptial greeting said : —
“ I had a dream, wherein it seemed men broke
A sovran league, and long years fought and bled,
Till down my sweet sides ran my children’s gore,
And all my beautiful garments were made red,
And all my fertile fields were thicket-grown,
Nor could thy dear light reach me through the air ;
At last a voice cried, ‘ Let them strive no more ! ’
Then music breathed, and lo ! from my despair
I wake to joy, — yet would not joy alone !
“ For, hark ! I hear a murmur on the meads, —
Where as of old my children seek my face, —
The low of kine, the peaceful tramp of steeds,
Blithe shouts of men in many a pastoral place,
The noise of tilth through all my goodliest land ;
And happy laughter of a dusky race
Whose brethren lift them from their ancient toil,
Saying : 'The year of jubilee has come ;
Gather the gifts of Earth with equal hand ;
Henceforth ye too may share the birthright soil,
The corn, the wine, and all the harvest-home.’
“ O, my dear lord, my radiant bridegroom, look !
Behold their joy who sorrowed in my dreams,—
The sword a share, the spear a pruning-hook ;
Lo, I awake, and turn me toward thy beams
Even as a bride again ! O, shed thy light
Upon my fruitful places in full streams !
Let there be yield for every living thing ;
The land is fallow, — let there be increase
After the darkness of the sterile night;
Ay, let us twain a festival of Peace
Prepare, and hither all my nations bring ! ”
The fair Earth spake : the glad Sun speeded forth,
Hearing her matron words, and backward drave
To frozen caves the icy Wind of the North, —
And bade the South Wind from the tropic wave
Bring watery vapors over river and plain, —
And bade the East Wind cross her path, and lave
The lowlands, emptying there her laden mist, —
And bade the Wind of the West, the best wind, blow
After the early and the latter rain, —
And beamed himself, and oft the sweet Earth kissed,
While her swift servitors sped to and fro.
Forthwith the troop that, at the beck of Earth,
Foster her children, brought a glorious store
Of viands, food of immemorial worth,
Her earliest gifts, her tenderest evermore.
First came the Silvery Spirit, whose marshalled files
Climb up the glades in billowy breakers hoar,
Nodding their crests, — and at his side there sped
The Golden Spirit, whose yellow harvests trail
Across the continents and fringe the isles,
And freight men’s argosies where'er they sail :
O, what a wealth of sheaves he there outspread !
Came the dear Spirit whom Earth doth love the best,
Fragrant of clover-bloom and new-mown hay,
Beneath whose mantle weary ones find rest,
On whose green skirts the little children play :
She bore the food our patient cattle crave.
Next, robed in silk, with tassels scattering spray,
Followed the generous Spirit of the Maize,—
And many a kindred shape of high renown
Bore in the clustering grape, the fruits that wave
On orchard branches or in gardens blaze,
And those the wind-shook forest hurtles down.
Even thus they laid a great and marvellous feast,
And Earth her children summoned joyously,
Throughout that goodliest land wherein had ceased
The vision of battle, and with glad hands free
These took their fill, and plenteous measures poured,
Beside, for those who dwelt beyond the sea ;
Praise, like an incense, upward rose to Heaven
For that full harvest, — and the autumnal Sun
Stayed long above, — and ever at the board,
Peace, white-robed angel, held the high seat given,
And War far off withdrew his visage dun.