Maurice Thompson

Out Of The South

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A migrant song-bird I,
Out of the blue, between the sea and the sky,
Landward blown on bright, untiring wings;
Out of the South I fly,
Urged by some vague, strange force of destiny,
To where the young wheat springs,
And the maize begins to grow,
And the clover fields to blow.


I have sought,
In far wild groves below the tropic line,
To lose old memories of this land of mine;
I have fought
This vague, mysterious power that flings me forth
Into the North;
But all in vain. When flutes of April blow
The immemorial longing lures me, and I go.


I go, I go,
The sky above, the sea below,
And I know not by what sense I keep my way,
Slow winnowing the ether night and day;
Yet ever to the same green, fragrant maple grove,
Where I shall swing and sing beside my love,
Some irresistible impulse bears me on,
Through starry dusks and rosy mists of dawn,
And flames of noon and purple films of rain;
And the strain
Of mighty winds hurled roaring back and forth,
Between the caverns of the reeling earth,
Cannot bewilder me.
I know that I shall see,
Just at the appointed time, the dogwood blow,
And hear the willows rustle and the mill-stream flow.


The very bough that best
Shall hold a perfect nest
Now bursts its buds and spills its keen perfume;
And the violets are in bloom,
Beside the boulder, lichen-grown and gray,
Where I shall perch and pipe,
Till the dewberries are ripe,
And our brood has flown away,
And the empty nest swings high
Between the flowing tides of grass and the dreamy violet sky.


I come, I come!
Bloom, O cherry, peach, and plum!
Bubble brook, and rustle corn and rye!
Falter not, O Nature, nor will I.
Give me thy flower and fruit,
And I'll blow for thee my flute;
I'll blow for thee my flute so sweet and clear,
This year,
Next year,
And many and many a blooming coming year,
Till this strange force
No more aloft shall guide me in my course,
High over weltering billows and dark woods,
Over Mississippi's looped and tangled floods,
Over the hills of Tennessee,
And old Kentucky's greenery,
In sun, in night, in clouds, and forth
Out of the South into the North,
To the spot where first the ancestral nest was swung,
Where first the ancestral song was sung,
Whose shadowy strains still ravish me
With immemorial melody.

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Maurice Thompson