Arcadian Days

Arcadian Days

Back in days of green Arcady when the world was young and free,

I toiled for gold in the days of old, in Arcady, green Arcady.

Mighty-thewed, mape-limbed, in the world-dawn haze,

For I was a sword-smith in those old, gold days,

Early in the morning, how my sledge would clang!

Through the sapphire evening how the red sparks sprang!

How my hammer boomed on bronze hilt and shaft!

How the anvil clashed, and the forge, how it laughed.

Glowing through the dusk of the whispering night,

Beating up the morning with its rose-red light!

But Zeus! How I labored! And Jove! How I sweat!

And I grumbled o’er my anvil with a fume and a fret.

For I rose at the dawn and I labored like a slave

For nobles that cursed me for a fool and a knave;

Until late at night and to my hut I’d gone,

To rise again, to toil again with the coming of the dawn.

Mountains on the sky-line, whisper of the sea,

Croon of the nightwind, they all called to me!

And I thrilled at the vistas that swept down the gorge,

For poetry was in me—but it sweltered at the forge.

So I grumbled as I hammered o the sullen metal stark

And I loomed through the smoke like a goblin of the dark.

And the grimy soot caked on the hair of my arms

And I cursed at the yokels plodding in from the farms.

Plodding from the farms and the vineyards on the hill

With the wine of the grape and the golden apple-mill,

As close by the forge, they’d stop a-gape to stare

At my long ape-arms and my wild, shaggy hair.

O’er my slanting forehead the mane tumbled down

And my small simian-eyes glowered back with a frown.

Short and swart and mighty, muscles like an ape,

I glowered at the yokels who stared all a-gape.

As day on day I labored with the loud anvil clang

And often with the measure in a roaring voice I sang:

(Deep bass below from a hairy chest,

Timbered with the anvil and the roar of the forge

Making up for rhythm with a red-blood zest

Wild as a hill-wind that roars through a gorge.)

“Brass for a peasant, gold for a king!

“And bronze for a warrior where the broadswords sing!

“Golden hafted, brazen shafted, ho! A kingly sword!

“Fit for a knight to make a stand with such brand in his hand

“’Gainst a horde!

“Then ho and ho again! for the anvils roar!

“For the clamor of the hammer and the metal-workers’ lore!

“A helmet for a chief and a cuirass for a lord!

“For a king’s own hand, a golden hilted sword!

“Ho! And ho! And ha!”

The sun like a gold thing floated on the high

And the green woodlands ran to the blue, dreaming sky.

The hills in the distance loomed up like gods

And the wood-deer scampered in the sun’s red rods.

And a rill down the hill, it danced and it sung,

But I toiled and I cursed where the forge smoke hung.

Then suddenly I turned, and you were standing there,

With a lyre in your fingers and a garland on your hair.

Tall, slim and lithe, like a white limbed god,

Twirling in your fingers a garland’s Dion’s rod.

And you were scarcely steady from your liking of vine,

Your garment was a kirtle and your breath was scented wine.

And you glanced at the forge and you glanced at me,

And you strummed on your lyre and laughed with glee.

Your laughter was like music, your voice like a rhyme,

As you sang, clear and strong, like a far, golden chime;

“Gold morn’s laughing o’er the ocean, dawn’s awhisper on the sea!

“And a silver brook is brawling, with its tiny cat’ract falling,

“From the woodlands Pan is calling, come away, with me!

“Come away! Come away! Where the wood nymphs laugh at play!

“There are trails through sapphire meadows, night times soft with laughing shadows,

“Emerald isles in topaz oceans where the mermaids flash in spray!

“Come away! Pan is prancing! Come away! The fauns are dancing!

“And it’s my good time I’m wasting as I pause to sing this lay!

“Come to the woodlands, away and away!”

You were the wind’s song, (starlight in your hair!)

I harkened to your singing, with wonder all a-stare.

Then to my forge I whirled and I gripped a mighty sledge

And I smashed the mighty anvil and flung it to the hedge.

I whirled on high the hammer and I hurled in the rill,

And the bellows and the forge I tumbled down the hill.

In the gold of the morning, my soul soared free,

And I laughed like a giant, and you laughed with me.

☀ ☀ ☀

And your laughter was a chime, was the ripple of the rill,

As through the golden morning, we strode down the hill.

Your lyre was a breath from the far, far seas!

(Ah, your hair in the sunlight as it floated in the breeze!)

On my bow-legs I followed, wonder in my eyes,

All a-gape with wonder at your songs and your lies,

Tales of sea and city, and far, strange lands,

(Music of the gods from your slim, strong hands.)

Poems at your finger tips, jests on all you saw,

And each jest I greeted with uproarious guffaw.

As through the sapphire woodland we strode to meet the dawn

On the roads o’ morning like a satyr and a faun.

☀ ☀ ☀

The white roads o’ morning, the ages golden truth.

We walked in green Arcady when the world was wild with youth.