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Madison Julius Cawein


Now 'tis the time when, tall,
The long blue torches of the bellflower gleam
Among the trees; and, by the wooded stream,
In many a fragrant ball,
Blooms of the button-bush fall.

Let us go forth and seek
Woods where the wild plums redden and the beech
Plumps its packed burs; and, swelling, just in reach,
The pawpaw, emerald sleek,
Ripens along the creek.

Now 'tis the time when ways
Of glimmering green flaunt white the misty plumes
Of the black-cohosh; and through bramble glooms,
A blur of orange rays,
The butterfly-blossoms blaze.

Let us go forth and hear
The spiral music that the locusts beat,
And that small spray of sound, so grassy sweet,
Dear to a country ear,
The cricket's summer cheer.

Now golden celandine
Is hairy hung with silvery sacks of seeds,
And bugled o'er with freckled gold, like beads,
Beneath the fox-grape vine,
The jewel-weed's blossoms shine.

Let us go forth and see
The dragon- and the butterfly, like gems,
Spangling the sunbeams; and the clover stems,
Weighed down by many a bee,
Nodding mellifluously.

Now morns are full of song;
The catbird and the redbird and the jay
Upon the hilltops rouse the rosy day,
Who, dewy, blithe, and strong,
Lures their wild wings along.

Now noons are full of dreams;
The clouds of heaven and the wandering breeze
Follow a vision; and the flowers and trees,
The hills and fields and streams,
Are lapped in mystic gleams.

The nights are full of love;
The stars and moon take up the golden tale
Of the sunk sun, and passionate and pale,
Mixing their fires above,

Grow eloquent thereof.

Such days are like a sigh
That beauty heaves from a full heart of bliss:
Such nights are like the sweetness of a kiss
On lips that half deny,
The warm lips of July.


This poem is in the public domain.


Madison Julius Cawein (1865 - 1914) was a poet from Louisville, Kentucky, who loved to write about nature. Sometimes referred to as "the Keats of Kentucky," Madison published more than thirty books of his own work and translated numerous others written by German poets. While nature was his favorite theme--his wonderfully detailed poems about his native state's flora and fauna have been called a "veritable nature guide to the Kentucky woodlands"--Madison also wrote about a broad range of other subjects, ranging from vampires to fairies. Critically popular, internationally acclaimed, and frequently published in contemporary magazines of his day, Madison was rendered almost destitute by the stock market crash in 1912 and was forced to sell his home and much of his library collection to survive.

Post New Comment:
Wilda Morris:
Does anyone know if there is a name for this form? It is elegant.
Posted 07/13/2016 08:45 AM
What lovely words
Posted 07/02/2016 11:40 AM
Displays a mastery of language and of poetic form, rhyme. Also shows off an extensive knowledge of the local flora and fauna.
Posted 07/02/2016 11:32 AM
Amazing! I'm going to print this out so I can look up all the flower references.
Posted 07/02/2016 09:57 AM
Larry Schug:
Yes, this poem definitely takes me to another place,as good poems do, and makes me want to go exploring, hopefully with a more discriminating eye.
Posted 07/02/2016 07:46 AM
He had me at > ...Now noons are full of dreams. Agree fully it is 'an eloquent feast for all 5 senses'. Thanks StefS & Sir Madison.
Posted 07/02/2016 06:02 AM
An eloquent feast for all 5 senses...I feel as though I've been taken on a walk through a place I've never been, a Kentucky wood dense with buzzing, dripping, pulsating life. Lovely.
Posted 07/02/2016 05:38 AM
Having one of my restless nights. This poem makes me want to head for Kentucky. Pure beauty. How descriptive.
Posted 07/02/2016 02:33 AM

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