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Stedman and Hutchinson, comps. A Library of American Literature:
An Anthology in Eleven Volumes. 1891.
Vols. IX–XI: Literature of the Republic, Part IV., 1861–1889

The Way to Arcady

By Henry Cuyler Bunner (1855–1896)

[Born in Oswego, N. Y., 1855. Died in Nutley, N. J., 1896. From Airs from Arcady and Elsewhere. 1884.]

OH, what’s the way to Arcady,

To Arcady, to Arcady;

Oh, what’s the way to Arcady,

Where all the leaves are merry?

Oh, what’s the way to Arcady?

The spring is rustling in the tree—

The tree the wind is blowing through—

It sets the blossoms flickering white.

I knew not skies could burn so blue

Nor any breezes blow so light.

They blow an old-time way for me,

Across the world to Arcady.

Oh, what’s the way to Arcady?

Sir Poet, with the rusty coat,

Quit mocking of the song-bird’s note.

How have you heart for any tune,

You with the wayworn russet shoon?

Your scrip, a-swinging by your side,

Gapes with a gaunt mouth hungry-wide.

I’ll brim it well with pieces red,

If you will tell the way to tread.

Oh, I am bound for Arcady,

And if you but keep pace with me

You tread the way to Arcady.

And where away lies Arcady,

And how long yet may the journey be?

Ah, that (quoth he) I do not know

Across the clover and the snow

Across the frost, across the flowers

Through summer seconds and winter hours.

I’ve trod the way my whole life long,

And know not now where it may be;

My guide is but the stir to song,

That tells me I cannot go wrong,

Or clear or dark the pathway be

Upon the road to Arcady.

But how shall I do who cannot sing?

I was wont to sing, once on a time——

There is never an echo now to ring

Remembrance back to the trick of rhyme.

’Tis strange you cannot sing (quoth he),

The folk all sing in Arcady.

But how may he find Arcady

Who hath nor youth nor melody?

What, know you not, old man (quoth he)——

Your hair is white, your face is wise

That Love must kiss that Mortal’s eyes

Who hopes to see fair Arcady?

No gold can buy you entrance there;

But beggared Love may go all bare

No wisdom won with weariness;

But Love goes in with Folly’s dress

No fame that wit could ever win;

But only Love may lead Love in

To Arcady, to Arcady.

Ah, woe is me, through all my days

Wisdom and wealth I both have got,

And fame and name, and great men’s praise;

But Love, ah, Love! I have it not.

There was a time, when life was new—

But far away, and half forgot—

I only know her eyes were blue;

But Love—I fear I knew it not.

We did not wed, for lack of gold,

And she is dead, and I am old.

All things have come since then to me,

Save Love, ah, Love! and Arcady.

Ah, then I fear we part (quoth he),

My way’s for Love and Arcady.

But you, you fare alone, like me;

The gray is likewise in your hair.

What love have you to lead you there,

To Arcady, to Arcady?

Ah, no, not lonely do I fare;

My true companion’s Memory.

With love he fills the Spring-time air;

With love he clothes the Winter tree.

Oh, past this poor horizon’s bound

My song goes straight to one who stands

Her face all gladdening at the sound

To lead me to the Spring-green lands,

To wander with enlacing hands.

The songs within my breast that stir

Are all of her, are all of her.

My maid is dead long years (quoth he),

She waits for me in Arcady.

Oh, yon’s the way to Arcady,

To Arcady, to Arcady;

Oh, yon’s the way to Arcady,

Where all the leaves are merry.