Rocks, trees and rocks; and down a mossy stone
The murmuring ooze and trickle of a stream
Through bushes, where the mountain spring lies lone,—
A gleaming cairngorm where the shadows dream,—
And one wild road winds like a saffron seam.
Here sang the thrush, whose pure, mellifluous note
Dropped golden sweetness on the fragrant June;
Here cat—and blue-bird and wood-sparrow wrote
Their presence on the silence with a tune;
And here the fox drank 'neath the mountain moon.
Frail ferns and dewy mosses and dark brush—
Impenetrable briers, deep and dense,
And wiry bushes,—brush, that seemed to crush
The struggling saplings with its tangle, whence
Sprawled out the ramble of an old rail-fence.
A wasp buzzed by; and then a butterfly
In orange and amber, like a floating flame;
And then a man, hard-eyed and very sly,
Gaunt—checked and haggard and a little lame,
With an old rifle, down the mountain came.
He listened, drinking from a flask he took
Out of the ragged pocket of his coat;
Then all around him cast a stealthy look;
Lay down; and watched an eagle soar and float,
His fingers twitching at his hairy throat.
The shades grew longer; and each Cumberland height
Loomed, framed in splendours of the dolphin dusk.
Around the road a horseman rode in sight;
Young, tall, blonde-bearded. Silent, grim, and brusque,
He in the thicket aimed—The gun ran husk;
And echoes barked among the hills and made
Repeated instants of the shot's distress.—
then silence—and the trampled bushes swayed;—
Then silence, packed with murder and the press
Of distant hoofs that galloped riderless.