Roads

Amy Lowell - 1874-1925
          I know a country laced with roads,
           They join the hills and they span the brooks,
          They weave like a shuttle between broad fields,
           And slide discreetly through hidden nooks.
          They are canopied like a Persian dome
           And carpeted with orient dyes.
          They are myriad-voiced, and musical,
           And scented with happiest memories.
          O Winding roads that I know so well,
           Every twist and turn, every hollow and hill!
          They are set in my heart to a pulsing tune
           Gay as a honey-bee humming in June.
          'T is the rhythmic beat of a horse's feet
           And the pattering paws of a sheep-dog bitch;
          'T is the creaking trees, and the singing breeze,
           And the rustle of leaves in the road-side ditch.

          A cow in a meadow shakes her bell
           And the notes cut sharp through the autumn air,
          Each chattering brook bears a fleet of leaves
           Their cargo the rainbow, and just now where
           The sun splashed bright on the road ahead
          A startled rabbit quivered and fled.
           O Uphill roads and roads that dip down!
          You curl your sun-spattered length along,
           And your march is beaten into a song
          By the softly ringing hoofs of a horse
           And the panting breath of the dogs I love.
          The pageant of Autumn follows its course
           And the blue sky of Autumn laughs above.

          And the song and the country become as one,
           I see it as music, I hear it as light;
          Prismatic and shimmering, trembling to tone,
           The land of desire, my soul's delight.
          And always it beats in my listening ears
           With the gentle thud of a horse's stride,
          With the swift-falling steps of many dogs,
           Following, following at my side.
          O Roads that journey to fairyland!
           Radiant highways whose vistas gleam,
          Leading me on, under crimson leaves,
           To the opaline gates of the Castles of Dream.

More by Amy Lowell

A London Thoroughfare. 2 A.M.


They have watered the street,
It shines in the glare of lamps, 
Cold, white lamps, 
And lies
Like a slow-moving river,
Barred with silver and black.
Cabs go down it,
One,
And then another,
Between them I hear the shuffling of feet.
Tramps doze on the window-ledges,
Night-walkers pass along the sidewalks.
The city is squalid and sinister,
With the silver-barred street in the midst,
Slow-moving,
A river leading nowhere.

Opposite my window,
The moon cuts,
Clear and round,
Through the plum-coloured night.
She cannot light the city:
It is too bright.
It has white lamps,
And glitters coldly.

I stand in the window and watch the
   moon.
She is thin and lustreless,
But I love her.
I know the moon, 
And this is an alien city.

Opal

You are ice and fire,
The touch of you burns my hands like snow.
You are cold and flame.
You are the crimson of amaryllis,
The silver of moon-touched magnolias.
When I am with you,
My heart is a frozen pond
Gleaming with agitated torches.

The Taxi

When I go away from you
The world beats dead 
Like a slackened drum.
I call out for you against the jutted stars
And shout into the ridges of the wind.
Streets coming fast,
One after the other,
Wedge you away from me,
And the lamps of the city prick my eyes
So that I can no longer see your face.
Why should I leave you,
To wound myself upon the sharp edges of the night?