The Little Hills

By George Sterling

In the land of little hills
  Wander brooks that never laugh.
Early there the shadow chills
  Sheep that crop the stubble chaff.
Sounds are there without a name,
Nor a hint of whence they came.
One shall hear a whisper brief
From the weed and russet leaf
(Dead leaves never wholly dead,
  Tugged forever east to west),
And the plowman's patient tread
  Where the larks would have their nest.

In the land of little hills,
  Where the voiceless brooks are flowing
Over thin and sandy sills,
  And the tepid winds are blowing
All the lonesome afternoon,
One shall hear the same sad tune
  From the bird in stunted trees;
  One shall see the crawling breeze
Fold one way the faded grasses.
On the old roads the pedlar passes,
  Happy with monotonies.

In the land of little hills
  Aging hearts are well contented
With the coin in musty tills
  Or in cupboards victual-scented.
There the dust falls slowly, slowly,
Till it seems benign and holy;
There the insipid lilies grow
As they did a year ago.
But the young folk live in dreams
  (For a while, for a while!)
Of the foam on colder streams,
  Mile by mile;
And the winds that touch their cheeks
Flow from undiscovered peaks.
They can close their scornful eyes
And on bleaker, purer skies
Watch afar the haunted mountains-
Hear the cry of stormy fountains
And of eagles hungering there
In the crystalline, cold air. 

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