Verse > Anthologies > Louis Untermeyer, ed. > Modern American Poetry
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Louis Untermeyer, ed. (1885–1977). Modern American Poetry.  1919.
 
Louis Untermeyer. 1885–
 
108. Summons
 
THE eager night and the impetuous winds, 
The hints and whispers of a thousand lures, 
And all the swift persuasion of the Spring, 
Surged from the stars and stones, and swept me on... 
The smell of honeysuckles, keen and clear,         5
Startled and shook me, with the sudden thrill 
Of some well-known but half-forgotten voice. 
A slender stream became a naked sprite, 
Flashed around curious bends, and winked at me 
Beyond the turns, alert and mischievous.  10
A saffron moon, dangling among the trees, 
Seemed like a toy balloon caught in the boughs, 
Flung there in sport by some too-mirthful breeze... 
And as it hung there, vivid and unreal, 
The whole world's lethargy was brushed away;  15
The night kept tugging at my torpid mood 
And tore it into shreds. A warm air blew 
My wintry slothfulness beyond the stars; 
And over all indifference there streamed 
A myriad urges in one rushing wave...  20
Touched with the lavish miracles of earth, 
I felt the brave persistence of the grass; 
The far desire of rivulets; the keen, 
Unconquerable fervor of the thrush; 
The endless labors of the patient worm;  25
The lichen's strength; the prowess of the ant; 
The constancy of flowers; the blind belief 
Of ivy climbing slowly toward the sun; 
The eternal struggles and eternal deaths— 
And yet the groping faith of every root!  30
Out of old graves arose the cry of life; 
Out of the dying came the deathless call. 
And, thrilling with a new sweet restlessness, 
The thing that was my boyhood woke in me— 
Dear, foolish fragments made me strong again;  35
Valiant adventures, dreams of those to come, 
And all the vague, heroic hopes of youth, 
With fresh abandon, like a fearless laugh, 
Leaped up to face the heaven's unconcern.... 
  
And then—veil upon veil was torn aside—  40
Stars, like a host of merry girls and boys, 
Danced gaily 'round me, plucking at my hand; 
The night, scorning its stubborn mystery, 
Leaned down and pressed new courage in my heart; 
The hermit-thrush, throbbing with more Song,  45
Sang with a happy challenge to the skies; 
Love and the faces of a world of children 
Swept like a conquering army through my blood. 
And Beauty, rising out of all its forms, 
Beauty, the passion of the universe,  50
Flamed with its joy, a thing too great for tears, 
And, like a wine, poured itself out for me 
To drink of, to be warmed with, and to go 
Refreshed and strengthened to the ceaseless fight; 
To meet with confidence the cynic years;  55
Battling in wars that never can be won, 
Seeking the lost cause and the brave defeat. 
 
 
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