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Edwin Arlington Robinson (1869–1935). Collected Poems. 1921.

II. The Children of the Night

41. The Wilderness

COME away! come away! there’s a frost along the marshes,

And a frozen wind that skims the shoal where it shakes the dead black water;

There’s a moan across the lowland and a wailing through the woodland

Of a dirge that sings to send us back to the arms of those that love us.

There is nothing left but ashes now where the crimson chills of autumn

Put off the summer’s languor with a touch that made us glad

For the glory that is gone from us, with a flight we cannot follow,

To the slopes of other valleys and the sounds of other shores.

Come away! come away! you can hear them calling, calling,

Calling us to come to them, and roam no more.

Over there beyond the ridges and the land that lies between us,

There’s an old song calling us to come!

Come away! come away!—for the scenes we leave behind us

Are barren for the lights of home and a flame that’s young forever;

And the lonely trees around us creak the warning of the night-wind,

That love and all the dreams of love are away beyond the mountains.

The songs that call for us to-night, they have called for men before us,

And the winds that blow the message, they have blown ten thousand years;

But this will end our wander-time, for we know the joy that waits us

In the strangeness of home-coming, and a woman’s waiting eyes.

Come away! come away! there is nothing now to cheer us—

Nothing now to comfort us, but love’s road home:—

Over there beyond the darkness there’s a window gleams to greet us,

And a warm hearth waits for us within.

Come away! come away!—or the roving-fiend will hold us,

And make us all to dwell with him to the end of human faring:

There are no men yet may leave him when his hands are clutched upon them,

There are none will own his enmity, there are none will call him brother.

So we’ll be up and on the way, and the less we boast the better

For the freedom that God gave us and the dread we do not know:—

The frost that skips the willow-leaf will again be back to blight it,

And the doom we cannot fly from is the doom we do not see.

Come away! come away! there are dead men all around us—

Frozen men that mock us with a wild, hard laugh

That shrieks and sinks and whimpers in the shrill November rushes,

And the long fall wind on the lake.