The Song of the Canoe

TO H. R. C.

DIP ! Dip !
And I thrill with the start —
For the ripples run and the waters part
At the Song the paddle sings.
Drip! Drip !
And lo, it brings
The word of a sweet command to me,
And leaping to answer it — I am free !
Water-weeds weaving in vain to stay me.
Fain, fain
Are the reeds arrayed at my prow to delay me —
Vain, vain,
They cast their lure and they bid me bide,
For the paddle swinging along my side —
Dip! Dip!
Hath a dearer bribe than the still things know,
And I go. I go !
Lo, I am come of a wilding birth —
The Brown God’s cunning my mother made,
In the days of the younger earth.
He wrought her stanch in sinew and thong,
Making her slender and supple and strong
And lithe as his knife’s own blade.
He garnished her bravely, without and within,
Breathed into her being the soul of desire,
To follow the wake of the mad marsh-fire,
Thistle-drift’s sister and Will-o’-the-wisp’s kin.
Out on the trail that the free things know,
I go! I go!
On the airy quest that is never won ;
And tempting me, daring me, luring me on,
The iris wings of the dragon fly —
Till the day is done and the last lights die.
Glide! Glide!
Across the calm of the evening tide
When the first white stars begin.
Creep! Creep!
Where the lilies sleep —
Stars in a sky as soft, as deep —
The paddle singing me in.
Hush ! Hush !
For the tall reeds brush
My side as though they love me.
Rest! Rest!
On the inlet’s breast
With the roof of the leaves above me.
Arthur Ketchum.