by: Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882)

      ONG I follow'd 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 goodwill my sinews strung,
      But no speed of mine avails
      To hunt upon their shining trails.
      On and away, their hasting feet
      Make the morning 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 easter hills I see their smokes
      Mix'd with mist by distant lochs.
      I met many travellers,
      Who the road had surely kept;
      They saw not my fine revellers--
      These had cross'd them while they slept.
      Some had heard their fair report
      In the country or the court:
      Fleetest couriers alive
      Never yet could once arrive,
      As they went or they return'd,
      At the house where these sojourn'd.
      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 'tis come and past.
      Their near camp my spirit knows
      By signs gracious as rainbows.
      I thenceforward and long after
      Listen for their harplike laughter,
      And carry in my heart, for days,
      Peace that hallows rudest ways.

"Fore-runners" is reprinted from Early Poems of Ralph Waldo Emerson. Ralph Waldo Emerson. New York: Thomas Y. Crowell & Company, 1899.




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