The Dancer

Those gold marauders of the air, 
The brown bees, bustling everywhere,
     Led me away
To where, in sulphur-colored showers, 
The Autumn heaped her gold of flowers,
     And bound her hair
With all the beauty of their disarray.

Above her head the birds took flight, 
And by her side a shape of light
     Danced like a Fay,
Who wove strange magic with the grace 
Of glancing limbs and twinkling face,
     And raiment bright,
That blew like gossamers about the day.

Who was this creature, dancing past? 
Who came and went, now slow, now fast,
     At airy play;
The goldenrod unto her feet
Kept time; and with her heart's wild beat, 
     To the very last,
The Black-eyed Susans set their heads asway.

I asked of flower and of tree:
"Who is this Elfin? What is she
     So bright and gay?"
They murmured what I could not hear; 
For she kept laughing in my ear,
     Bewildering me,
And whispering words too wild for me to say.

Then, in a movement, she was gone, 
Flying a veil of cloudy lawn,
     Pinned with a ray;
And then I heard "The Wind am I! 
The Wind who now must say good-bye,
     And go till dawn
And dance with stars and waves upon the bay."

And all night long, snug in my bed, 
I heard her feet as far they led
     The dancing spray;
And to the moon and stars a shout 
She raised and tried to blow them out,
     Then laughed and fled
To greet the dawn who walked on hilltops gray.
Madison Cawein [1865–1914]