Too heavy seemed the fragrance of the fern,
And drowsed me; up the road from turn to turn
Sconces of white cohosh made altars green
And milky-candled shrines of each ravine,
To drowse me ; and the spirit, shrine to shrine,
Purple, or fawn, or unknown butterfly,
Flitting, they drowsed me. Weary of beauty, I,
Beauty that in the sun before the storm
From the rich mountains smiled too sweet and warm.
Harsh is the face of truth, I thought, and stern.
Release me, scented sorcery of the fern !
A little life, and masked with sleepy flowers!
And the storm rose, and changed the darkening bowers.
Cloud-shade and wind and thunder fell on me :
I took the rain like waking, I was free
Of those enchanted hands, awake, aware,
Exulting. Death was out and on the air ;
And even in her flowers life abode,
Knowing her mate, his passing, he that rode
High on the dusk, a great voice with him blown.
I saw not those dark wings : I heard alone
The croak of passing ravens. Weird it fell,
And hoarse, and rusty, and like an old great bell
Tolled, and the dark drew on from height to height,
Clanged, and the dark seemed greater than the light,
Tolled, and I stood full stature, drawing breath,
Tolled, and I thought, I have heart to look on death,
Clanged, and I cried, O bold old godlike death !
Joseph Russell Taylor.