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Listening with quickened heart and ear intent
I could not paint the scenery of my song, Mindless of one who looked thereon so long ; Who, night and day, on duty's lonely round, Made friends o' the woods and rocks, and knew
the sound Of each small brook, and what the hillside trees Said to the winds that touched their leafy keys; Who saw so keenly and so well could paint The village-folk, with all their humors quaint, — The parson ambling on his wall-eyed roan, Grave and erect, with white hair backward
blown; The tough old boatman, half amphibious grown; The muttering witch-wife of the gossip's tale, And the loud straggler levying his black mail, Old customs, habits, superstitions, fears, All that lies buried under fifty years. To thee, as is most fit, I bring my lay, And, grateful, own the debt I cannot pay.
OVER the wooded northern ridge,
Between its houses brown,
The street comes straggling down.
You catch a glimpse through birch and pine
Of gable, roof, and porch,
The sharp horn of the church.
The river's steel-blue crescent curves
To meet, in ebb and flow,
For sloop and gundelow.
With salt sea-scents along its shores
The heavy hay-boats crawl, The long antennæ of their oars
In lazy rise and fall.
Along the gray abutment's wall
The idle shad-net dries;
Sits smoking with closed eyes.
You hear the pier's low undertone
Of waves that chafe and gnaw; You start, — a skipper's horn is blown
To raise the creaking draw.
At times a blacksmith's anvil sounds
With slow and sluggard beat, Or stage-coach on its dusty rounds
Wakes up the staring street.
A place for idle eyes and ears,
A cobwebbed nook of dreams; Left by the stream whose waves are years
The stranded village seems.
And there, like other moss and rust,
The native dweller clings,
The old, dull round of things.
The fisher drops his patient lines,
The farmer sows his grain, Content to hear the murmuring pines
Instead of railroad-train.
Go where, along the tangled steep
That slopes against the west, The hamlet's buried idlers sleep
In still profounder rest.
Throw back the locust's flowery plume,
The birch's pale-green scarf, And break the web of brier and bloom
From name and epitaph.