Forerunners (Emerson)

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Forerunners
by Ralph Waldo Emerson
Published in Poems (1847)

Forerunners

Long I followed happy guides,
I could never reach their sides;
Their step is forth, and, ere the day
Breaks up their leaguer, and away.
Keen my sense, my heart was young,
Right good-will my sinews strung,
But no speed of mine avails
To hunt upon their shining trails.
On and away, their hasting feet
Make the mourning proud and sweet;
Flowers they strew,—I catch the scent;
Or tone of silver instrument
Leaves on the wind melodious trace;
Yet I could never see their face.
On eastern hills I see their smokes,
Mixed with mist by distant lochs.
I met many travellers
Who the road had surely kept;
They saw not my fine revellers,—
They had crossed them while they slept.
Some had heard fair report,
In the country or the court.
Fleetest courriers alive
Never yet could once arrive,
As they went or they returned,
At the house where these sojourned.
Sometimes their strong speed they slacken,
Though they are not overtaken;
In sleep their jubilant troop is near,—
I tuneful voices overhear;
It may be in wood or waste,—
At unawares't is come and past.
Their near camp my spirit knows
By signs gracious as rainbows.
I thenceforth and long after
Listen for their harp-like laughter,
And carry in my heart, for days,
Peace that hallows rudest ways.

This work published before January 1, 1923 is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.