The Water Witch

GRAY, unearthly water-witch
With your supple forkèd switch
Wand’ring o’er my upland field,
What is to your sense revealed
That is hid away from mine,
That my hand cannot divine?
Is it Arethusa, crying,
Still from base Alphsqæus flying,
That you hear and fain would lead
Forth upon the fragrant mead,
As a gentle sweet-voiced fountain,
At the foot of my lone mountain ?
Or the famed Pierian rill,
Migrant from its ancient hill, —
Does it flow with rhythmic beat
Under your slow-shuffling feet,
Till the forest’s pulses cry
Through this twig their rapt reply ?
Or that other stream of old
Where King Midas, fond of gold.
Bathed and found his body freed
From its gold-creating greed —
Do its hoarded yellow sands
Twitch your empty, callous hands ?
Yesterday an emperor,
Savant, navarch, conqueror,
Tiring of his wave and clod,
Asked for a divining rod,
Not content till he should bring
Waters from the hidden spring,
Till the streams beneath the land
Should obey his least command.
But no man shall govern these
Save who’s often on his knees
Where the flowers and grasses grow,
Who has heard the rain and snow
Talking with the parchèd earth
Of the deluge and the dearth;
Save who knows the forest’s speech,
Voice of oak and pine and beech,
And amid their shadows dreams, —
He shall hear the silent streams,
He shall see the unseen things,
He shall find the secret springs,
He shall strike in faith the rock,
Though the unbelieving mock,
He shall make a living well
For the thirsty souls who dwell
In the vale of Baca, he
Seer of sky and spring shall be; —
In his hands the out-door God
Puts his true divining-rod.