Churchmen know not why the wild geese arise,
With clamorous, harsh cries,
And drift away to the dream-distant south;
Why there is sleep over all the land, and drouth
Of sap in the deep-rooted trees:
And why dead leaves, swinging upon the breeze,
Bright maple leaves, and the vermeil leaves of oak,
Float softly down, and strew
The austere. russet earth with motley cloak.
Autumn is here, and the gray, brooding sky
Peers through the branches now
On fields that lie
In respite from the green things clambering
Ceaselessly in the wake of the sharp-searing blow.
What does the prayer book, what the unliving creed,
Know of the slumbering seed?
O let me scorn the priest, let me despise
The silver hard and cold,
And the blood-spattered gold,
And precious stones like venomous serpents’ eyes!
Pendulant crystals flashing from the caves,
And the bright-armored leaves
That tinkle as the wind goes venturing by-
Clearer than diamonds are,
Fairer than golden dish,
They will be all the gems that I could wish.
Incense enough for me will be the pungent breath
Of wood smoke in the air:
And like a princess letting fall her hair,
Light-scudding snow will muffle field and scar
In ermine purer far
Than any mantle that a saint might wear.
This only, this alone is my theology:
Someone there is whom churchmen cannot see.
Someone they cannot know,
Someone who watches the wild geese with me.
Or soul-disturbing stars, or row on row
Of blue aster bowing their heads in the snow.