Sunday, October 19, 2014

Birds of Passage / Peter McArthur

Birds of Passage

When the maples flame with crimson
     And the nights are still with frost,
Ere the summer's luring beauty
     Is in autumn glory lost,
Through the marshes and the forests
     An imperious summons flies,
And from all the dreaming north-land
     The wild birds flock and rise.

From streams no oar hath rippled
     And lakes that waft no sail,
From reaches vast and lonely
     That know no hunter's trail,
The clamor of their calling
     And the whistling of their flight
Fill all the day with marvel,
     And with mystery, the night.

As ebb along the ocean
     The great obedient tides,
So wave on wave they journey
     Where an ancient wisdom guides;
A-through the haze of autumn
     They vanish down the wind,
With the summer world before them
     And the crowding storms behind.

Peter McArthur (1866-1924)
from The Prodigal, and other poems, 1907

[Poem is in the public domain in Canada, the United States, and the European Union]

Peter McArthur biography

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