The Vagabonds

Original Text: 
Bliss Carman, Low Tide on Grand Pré: A Book of Lyrics (New York: C. L. Webster, 1893), pp. 123-29. B-11 7495 Fisher Library.
"Such as wake on the night and sleep on the day, and haunt customable taverns and alehouses and routs about, and no man wot from whence they came, nor whither they go." --Old English Statute.
1We are the vagabonds of time,
2     And rove the yellow autumn days,
4     And all the valleys blue with haze.
5We came unlooked for as the wind
6     Trooping across the April hills,
7When the brown waking earth had dreams
8     Of summer in the Wander Kills.
9How far afield we joyed to fare,
10     With June in every blade and tree!
11Now with the sea-wind in our hair
12     We turn our faces to the sea.
13We go unheeded as the stream
14     That wanders by the hill-wood side,
15Till the great marshes take his hand
16     And lead him to the roving tide.
17The roving tide, the sleeping hills,
18     These are the borders of that zone
19Where they may fare as fancy wills
20     Whom wisdom smiles and calls her own.
21It is a country of the sun,
22     Full of forgotten yesterdays,
23When Time takes Summer in his care,
24     And fills the distance of her gaze.
25It stretches from the open sea
26     To the blue mountains and beyond;
27The world is Vagabondia
28     To him who is a vagabond.
29In the beginning God made man
30     Out of the wandering dust, men say;
31And in the end his life shall be
32     A wandering wind and blown away.
33We are the vagabonds of time,
34     Willing to let the world go by,
35With joy supreme, with heart sublime,
36     And valor in the kindling eye.
37We have forgotten where we slept,
38     And guess not where we sleep to-night,
39Whether among the lonely hills
40     In the pale streamers' ghostly light
41We shall lie down and hear the frost
42     Walk in the dead leaves restlessly,
43Or somewhere on the iron coast
44     Learn the oblivion of the sea.
45It matters not. And yet I dream
46     Of dreams fulfilled and rest somewhere
47Before this restless heart is stilled
48     And all its fancies blown to air.
49Had I my will! . . . The sun burns down
50     And something plucks my garment's hem:
51The robins in their faded brown
52     Would lure me to the south with them.
53'Tis time for vagabonds to make
54     The nearest inn. Far on I hear
55The voices of the Northern hills
56     Gather the vagrants of the year.
57Brave heart, my soul! Let longings be!
58     We have another day to wend.
59For dark or waylay what care we
60     Who have the lords of time to friend?
61And if we tarry or make haste,
62     The wayside sleep can hold no fear.
63Shall fate unpoise, or whim perturb,
64     The calm-begirt in dawn austere?
65There is a tavern, I have heard,
66     Not far, and frugal, kept by One
67Who knows the children of the Word,
68     And welcomes each when day is done.
69Some say the house is lonely set
70     In Northern night, and snowdrifts keep
71The silent door; the hearth is cold,
72     And all my fellows gone to sleep....
73Had I my will! I hear the sea
74     Thunder a welcome on the shore;
75I know where lies the hostelry
76     And who should open me the door.


3] rime: frost. Back to Line
Publication Start Year: 
Publication Notes: 
Published in New York Independent
RPO poem Editors: 
Ian Lancashire
RPO Edition: 
RPO 1998.