It Will Be a Hard Winter

THEY say the blue king jays have flown
From woods of Westchester:
So I am off for Luthany,
But I shall make no stir;
For who fair Luthany would see,
Must set him forth alone.
In screwing winds last night the snow
Creaked like an angry jinn;
And two old men from up the State
Said, ‘Bears tvent early in,’ —
Half pausing by my ice-locked gate, —
‘March will be late to blow.’
So I for Luthany am bound,
And I shall take no pack;
You cannot find the way, you know,
With feet that make a track,
But light as blowing leaf must go,
And you must hear a sound
That’s like a singing strange and high
Of birds you’ve never seen;
Then two ghosts come; as doves they move,
While you must walk between;
And one is Youth and one is Love,
Who say, ‘We did not die.’
The harp-built walls of Luthany
Are builded high and strong,
To shelter singer, fool, and seer;
And glad they live, and long.
All others die who enter there,
But they are safe, these three.
The seer can warm his body through
By some far fire he sees;
The fool can naked dance in snow;
The singer— as he please!
And which I be of these, oho,
That is a guess for you!
Once in a thousand years, they say,
The walls are beaten down;
And then they find a singer dead;
But swift they set a crown
Upon his lowly, careless head,
And sing his song for aye!
So I to Luthany will flee,
While here the winter raves.
God send I go not as one blind
A-dancing upon graves!
God save a madman if I find
War’s heel on Luthany!