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RAIN IN THE WOODS

WHEN on the leaves the rain insists,
    And every gust brings showers down;
When all the woodland smokes with mists,
    I take the old road out of town
Into the hills through which it twists.
I find the vale where catnip grows, Where boneset blooms, with wetness bowed; The vale, through which the red creek flows, Turbid with hill-washed clay, and loud As some wild horn a woodsman blows.
Around the root the beetle glides, A living beryl; and the ant, Large, agate-red, a garnet, slides Beneath the rock; and every plant Is roof for some frail thing that hides.
Knotlike upon the gray-barked trees The lichen-colored moths are pressed; And, wedged in hollow blooms, the bees Seem clotted pollen; in its nest The hornet creeps and lies at ease.
The locust, too, that harshly saws The silence of the summer noon; And katydid, that thinly draws Its fine file o’er the bars of moon; And grasshopper that drills each pause:
The mantis, long-clawed, furtive, lean, — Fierce feline of the insect hordes, — And dragon fly, gauze-winged and green, Beneath the grape leaves and the gourds Have housed themselves, and rest unseen.
The butterfly and forest bird Are huddled on the same gnarled bough, From which, like some rain-voweled word That dampness hoarsely utters now, The tree toad’s voice is vaguely heard.
I crouch and listen; and again The woods are filled for me with forms. Weird, elfin shapes in train on train Arise; and now I feel the arms Around me of the wraiths of rain.
Madison Cawein [1865-1914]