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Bliss Carman (Блисс Кармен)

Dust of the Street

This cosmic dust beneath our feet
Rising to hurry down the street,

Borne by the wind and blown astray
In its erratic, senseless way,

Is the same stuff as you and I—
With knowledge and desire put by.

Thousands of times since time began
It has been used for making man,

Freighted like us with every sense
Of spirit and intelligence,

To walk the world and know the fine
Large consciousness of things divine.

These wandering atoms in their day
Perhaps have passed this very way,

With eager step and flowerlike face,
With lovely ardor, poise, and grace,

On what delightful errands bent,
Passionate, generous, and intent,—

An angel still, though veiled and gloved,
Made to love us and to be loved.

Friends, when the summons comes for me
To turn my back (reluctantly)

On this delightful play, I claim
Only one thing in friendship's name;

And you will not decline a task
So slight, when it is all I ask:

Scatter my ashes in the street
Where avenue and crossway meet.

I beg you of your charity,
No granite and cement for me,

To needlessly perpetuate
An unimportant name and date.

Others may wish to lay them down
On some fair hillside far from town,

Where slim white birches wave and gleam
Beside a shadowy woodland stream,

Or in luxurious beds of fern,
But I would have my dust return

To the one place it loved the best
In days when it was happiest.

Bliss Carman's other poems:
  1. The Tent of Noon
  2. The Ships of Yule
  3. A Creature Catechism
  4. The Givers of Life
  5. A Fireside Vision

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