Hark! What sound disturbs the stillness
Of the forest, of the meadow?
Harsh the notes, a wild alarum,
Waking echoes from the ledges,
Mocking laughter from the hemlocks.
Hark! It nearer comes and rattles,
Like the hail upon the grape leaves,
Like cold rain upon the cornfield.
From the clear Chocorua water
Slowly slips the wasting ice-sheet.
In the space reclaimed from winter
Pale blue skies are seen reflected,
And the sleeping lion's profile
From among them gleams majestic.
See, reflections calm are broken,
Waves arise and lap the ice-sheet,
And again the wild alarum
Echoes from the gloomy hemlocks.
From the agitated water,
Like a fragment of the picture
Of the April sky just broken,
Rises swiftly towards the forest
He who makes this clamorous discord,
He who broke the calm reflection,
Tyrant of the sleeping waters,
Terror of their finny dwellers.
Thus he comes with melting ice-sheets,
Comes with challenge and with bluster,
Flashing like a feathered arrow
Through the gleaming sun of Easter,
Searching for the schools of minnows
In the shallows, on the sand-bars,
Calling out his wild defiance
To the forest, to the mountain.
Weeks roll by, and May-time lingers,
Full of music, full of perfume.
Over eddying Bearcamp water
Myriad swallows glide and twitter.
Golden sand-banks flank the river;
Riddled are they, like a frigate
Wrecked by cruel grape and shrapnel,
Riddled by the swallows' borings.
Flash! a jet of white and azure
Leaves the sand-bank, clips the water,
Rises to a blasted maple,
Drooping o'er the Bearcamp eddies.
Hark! again the forest quivers
To the harsh and jarring challenge,
And again the fish are startled
By this plunge beneath the waters.
In the sand-bank, near the turf line,
Is a larger, deeper boring
Than the borings of the swallows.
Here the king's proud fisher lodges,
Lodges on a heap of fishbones,
Lodges in the deepest darkness,
Lays her seven snow-white treasures,
Fondles them and gives them being.