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In Michigan Post by :Vinnie Category :Poems Author :Edgar Lee Masters Date :November 2011 Read :1624

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In Michigan

You wrote:
"Come over to Saugatuck
And be with me on the warm sand,
And under cool beeches and aromatic cedars."
And just then no one could do a thing in the city
For the lure of far places, and something that tugged
At one's heart because of a June sky,
And stretches of blue water,
And a warm wind blowing from the south.
What could I do but take a boat
And go to meet you?

And when to-day is not enough,
But you must live to-morrow also;
And when the present stands in the way
Of something to come,
And there is but one you would see,
All the interval of waiting is a wall.
And so it was I walked the landward deck
With flapping coat and hat pulled down;
And I sat on the leeward deck and looked
At the streaming smoke of the funnels,
And the far waste of rhythmical water,
And at the gulls flying by our side.

There was music on board and dancing,
But I could not take part.
For above all there was the bluest sky,
And around us the urge of magical distances.
And just because you were in the violins,
And in everything, and were wholly the world
Of sense and sight,
It was too much. One could not live it
And make it all his own--
It was too much.
And I wondered where the rest could be going,
Or what they thought of water and sky
Without knowing you.

But at four o'clock there was a rim,
A circled edge of rainbow color
Which suspired, widened and narrowed under your gaze:
It was the phantasy of straining eyes,
Or land--and it was land.
It was distant trees.
And then it was dunes, bluffs of yellow sand.
We began to wonder how far it was--
Five miles, or ten miles--
Surely only five miles!--
But at last whatever it was we swung to the end.
We rounded the lighthouse pier,
Almost before we knew.
We slowed our speed in a dizzy river of black,
We drifted softly to dock.

I took the ferry,
I crossed the river,
I ran almost through the little batch
Of fishermen's shacks.
I climbed the winding road of the hill,
And dove in a shadowy quiet
Of paths of moss and dancing leaves,
And straight stretched limbs of giant pines
On patches of sky.
I ran to the top of the bluff
Where the lodge-house stood.
And there the sunlit lake burst on me
And wine-like air.
And below me was the beach
Where the serried lines of hurrying water
Came up like rank on rank of men
And fell with a shout on the rocks!
I plunged, I stumbled, I ran
Down the hill,
For I thought I saw you,
And it was you, you were there!
And I shall never forget your cry,
Nor how you raised your arms and cried,
And laughed when you saw me.
And there we were with the lake
And the sun with his ruddy search-light blaze
Stretching back to lost Chicago.
The sun, the lake, the beach, and ourselves
Were all that was left of Time,
All else was lost.

You were making a camp.
You had bent from the bank a cedar bough
And tied it down.
And over it flung a quilt of many colors,
And under it spread on the voluptuous silt
Gray blankets and canvas pillows.
I saw it all in a glance.
And there in dread of eyes we stood
Scanning the bluff and the beach,
Lest in the briefest touch of lips
We might be seen.

For there were eyes, or we thought
There were eyes, on the porch of the lodge,
And eyes along the forest's rim on the hill,
And eyes on the shore.
But a minute past there was no sun,
Only a star that shone like a match which lights
To a blue intenseness amid the glow of a hearth.
And we sat on the sand as dusk came down
In a communion of silence and low words.
Till you said at last: "We'll sup at the lodge,
Then say good night to me and leave
As if to stay overnight in the village.
But instead make a long detour through the wood
And come to the shore through that ravine,
Be here at the tent at midnight."

And so I did.
I stole through echoless ways,
Where no twigs broke and where I heard
My heart beat like a watch under a pillow.
And the whippoorwills were singing.
And the sound of the surf below me
Was the sound of silver-poplar leaves
In a wind that makes no pause....
I hurried down the steep ravine,
And a bat flew up at my feet from the brush
And crossed the moon.
To my left was the lighthouse,
And black and deep purples far away,
And all was still.
Till I stood breathless by the tent
And heard your whispered welcome,
And felt your kiss.

Lovers lay at mid-night
On roofs of Memphis and Athens
And looked at tropical stars
As large as golden beetles.
Nothing is new, save this,
And this is always new.
And there in your tent
With the balm of the mid-night breeze
Sweeping over us,
We looked at one great star
Through a flap of your many-colored tent,
And the eternal quality of rapture
And mystery and vision flowed through us.

Next day we went to Grand Haven,
For my desire was your desire,
Whatever wish one had the other had.
And up the Grand River we rowed,
With rushes and lily pads about us,
And the sand hills back of us,
Till we came to a quiet land,
A lotus place of farms and meadows.
And we tied our boat to Schmitty's dock,
Where we had a dinner of fish.
And where, after resting, to follow your will
We drifted back to Spring Lake--
And under a larger moon,
Now almost full,
Walked three miles to The Beeches,
By a winding country road,
Where we had supper.
And afterwards a long sleep,
Waking to the song of robins.

And that day I said:
There are wild places, blue water, pine forests,
There are apple orchards, and wonderful roads
Around Elk Lake--shall we go?
And we went, for your desire was mine.
And there we climbed hills,
And ate apples along the shaded ways,
And rolled great boulders down the steeps
To watch them splash in the water.
And we stood and wondered what was beyond
The farther shore two miles away.
And we came to a place on the shore
Where four great pine trees stood,
And underneath them wild flowers to the edge
Of sand so soft for naked feet.
And here, for not a soul was near,
We stripped and swam far out, laughing, rejoicing,
Rolling and diving in those great depths
Of bracing water under a glittering sun.

There were farm houses enough
For food and shelter.
But something urged us on.
One knows the end and dreads the end
Yet seeks the end.
And you asked, "Is there a town near?
Let's see a town."
So we walked to Traverse City
Through cut-over land and blasted
Trunks and stumps of pine,
And by the side of desolate hills.
But when we got to Traverse City
You were not content, nor was I.
Something urged us on.
Then you thought of Northport
And of its Norse and German fishermen,
And its quaint piers where they smoke fish.
So we drove for thirty miles
In a speeding automobile
Over hills, around sudden curves, into warm coverts,
Or hollows, sometimes at the edge of the Bay,
Again on the hill,
From where we could see Old Mission
Amid blues and blacks, across a score of miles of the Bay,
Waving like watered silk under the moon!
And by meadows of clover newly cut,
And by peach orchards and vineyards.
But when we came to the little town
Already asleep, though it was but eight o'clock,
And only a few drowsy lamps
With misty eyelids shone from a store or two,
I said, "Do you see those twinkling lights?
That's Northport Point, that's the Cedar Cabin--
Let's go to the Cedar Cabin."
And so we crossed the Bay
Amid great waves in a plunging launch,
And a roaring breeze and a great moon,
For now the moon was full.

So here was the Cedar Cabin
On a strip of land as wide as a house and lawn,
And on one side Lake Michigan,
And on one side the Bay.
There were distances of color all around,
And stars and darknesses of land and trees,
And at the point the lighthouse.
And over us the moon,
And over the balcony of our room
All of these, where we lay till I slept,
Listening to the water of the lake,
And the water of the Bay.
And we saw the moon sink like a red bomb,
And we saw the stars change
As the sky wheeled....
Now this was the end of the earth,
For this strip of land
Ran out to a point no larger than one of the stumps
We saw on the desolate hills.
And moreover it seemed to dive under,
Or waste away in a sudden depth of water.
And around it was a swirl,
To the north the bounding waves of the Lake,
And to the south the Bay which seemed the Lake.
But could we speak of it, even though
I saw your eyes when you thought of it?
A sigh of wind blew through the rustic temple
When we saw this symbol together,
And neither spoke.
But that night, somewhere in the beginning of drowsiness,
You said: "There is no further place to go,
We must retrace."
And I awoke in a torrent of light in the room,
Hearing voices and steps on the walk:
I looked for you,
But you had arisen.
Then I dressed and searched for you,
But you were gone.
Then I stood for long minutes
Looking at a sail far out at sea
And departed too.


(The end)
Edgar Lee Masters's poem: In Michigan

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