Verse > Anthologies > Harriet Monroe, ed. > Poetry: A Magazine of Verse, 1912–22
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Harriet Monroe, ed. (1860–1936).  Poetry: A Magazine of Verse.  1912–22.
 
Dancing to a Chewink’s Song
By Francis Buzzell
 
ONE day when by a path I stood
That strayed its way out of a wood,
To hear the woodbirds’ early song
Before I drove my feet along,
There came from out the trees’ soft shade        5
A most delightful, buoyant maid
Who seemed no more of me afraid
Than of the birds whose joyous singing
Set her splendid legs to springing
Till my heart went singing, winging,        10
And my body woke and swayed.
 
And then when near to me she drew,
She smiled as most wood-maidens do,
And her sweet voice rang out with laughter
And all the trees went echoing after.        15
She raised bare arms above her head,
And beckoned me, and then she fled,
More blithesome than the chickadees,
Down a path of arching trees,
Quick of foot as any breeze,        20
And I followed where she led.
 
And when we came to a wide brook,
One mighty, flying leap she took;
And then, it seemed, she almost died
Of laughter, while I grimly tried        25
That cursed running stream to cross
On little boulders green with moss.
And when I tumbled, both feet slipping,
In the stream and came up dripping,
Up and down she ran, a-tripping,        30
Seeking flowers at me to toss.
 
Oh, how a girl loose-frocked can kick,
When kicking isn’t just a trick,
But effervescence of pure joy
That bubbles up as in a boy.        35
She stretched her arms to me and called
When out upon a stone I’d crawled,
And fingers busy, kisses throwing,
All her face alive and glowing,
Danced until, my poor wits going,        40
Off again I slipped, enthralled.
 
At last when on the bank I stood
She ran again into the wood,
And now and then a joyous cry
Rang through the trees to guide me by.        45
And yet, however hard I tried,
It was n’t till her quick eyes spied
A mother squirrel in her nest,
Baby squirrels at her breast,
That she stopped a time to rest,        50
Letting me creep up beside.
Soft-eyed she watched, with hand held out
To warn me that I must n’t shout,
Or crackle dead limbs with my feet.
And then I heard the wood’s heart beat,        55
And suddenly the mood was stilled
That in a blithesome hour had willed
For me to caper to the skilled
Abandon of her girlish graces,
Running joyous, pagan races        60
Through the arching leaf-hung places
Till her cup of fun was filled.
 
And silently she slipped away
Into the east where each new day
The sun comes up across the sky        65
While living things are born and die;
And, trailing her with strident cry,
I almost reached her side again,
And saw her eyes were filled with pain:
For all the trees took up my calling,        70
Echoed it like giant’s brawling,
While she ran through sunbeams falling
And was gone like summer rain.
 
If you had ever watched for long
A girl with body lithe and strong        75
Go dancing to a chewink’s song,
And then at last, just when you thought
You had her radiant body caught,
Away from you she’d swiftly flown,—
You too would call in plaintive tone,        80
And run about like something blind,
Begging her to be more kind,
Crying like the winter wind
Through a lonesome forest blown.
 
Out of the woods in headlong race        85
I ran, and tripped, and fell through space,
Down by the crossroads near a spring
Where all the peewits come to sing:
And then the next clear thing I knew
Across my face a soft wind blew,        90
And at my side a girl was kneeling.
All the world went reeling, wheeling,
And her lips to mine came stealing
Softer than the morning dew.
 
 
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