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Augustin S. Macdonald, comp. A Collection of Verse by California Poets. 1914.

By Rufus Steele

The Spirit of California

I AM Ariel freed of a master;

I am Puck lacking Oberon’s ban;

When the lotus is ripe, hark my Pandean pipe

For I’m Peter the godchild of Pan.

I am Iris, my brush is a rainbow;

Endymion awakened am I;

In the breast of the tree Hamadryad I be—

With Sequoia I tickle the sky!

In the orchard I hang my round beacons—

Ah, Calypso, less potent thy lute!

And men come to seize and lean strip my trees,

For I’m nectar that sweetens the fruit.

My breath have I blown on the melon:

When the honey bee, laden, starts home

I follow his tracks, leave my kiss on his wax:

The poppy I’ve sprinkled with chrome.

I mask me in gold in the wheat-fields,

And I laugh at the reaper’s sure tread—

The sheaves are alined, it is me they would bind:

I am soul of the grain, I am bread.

In autumn men seek me in vineyards;

The purple which lures them is mine—

“The capture is nigh; quick, the press!” is their cry:

I am blood of the grape, I am wine.

O, I’m secret of life-giving rivers;

I am balm that exhales from Health’s cave:

Consumed in each kernel, I live on eternal,

I am Master of Life, I’m its Slave.

From the battlements of the Sierra

The Pandean pipe I swing free,

And my far-floating tune, in the stillness of noon,

Weaves a spell from the peaks to the sea.