The Pathway

By George Sterling

Through the singing pines of Carmel runs the trail to Monterey,
Taken by the gentle padres as they passed from bay to bay.
'Round the meadow, up the hillside, goes the pathway to the North,
Trodden by the fated savage ere the men of Spain went forth.
Thought they then, the Mission fathers and the careless cavaliers
Of the dusky men that made it in the unrecorded years?
So I questioned, idly musing where the yerba buena twines:
"Far away and long forgotten!" sang the wind in Carmel pines.

Of the trees that cast their shadow in the noontide of the sun,
Green and great above the pathway, now remains not even one:
Younger shafts have grown to fullness from the dust of parent trees;
Younger branches hold their harpstrings to the fingers of the breeze.
Brown and broken lie the needles, brown and brittle falls the leaf,
Where beside the manzanita. Fremont's flower had burst the sheaf.
In the flood and surge of Nature, ebb and end the heart divines
"Far away and long forgotten!" sang the wind in Carmels pines.

Man of God and caballero, shall a soul recall them now?
O'er their ashes on the hillside yearly goes the needy plow.
Tho we hear their names in legends of the empire they began,
Face and form have slowly vanished from the memories of man.
Where the Spanish beauty cantered, steeds of steel go down the lane;
On the Mission falls the shadow of the circling aeroplane.
In the glade where Summer wantoned, yellow lie the seeded vines
"Far away and long forgotten!" sang the wind in Carmel pines.

To the embers of our campfire on the margin of the beach,
Where the stranded kelp is drying, soon or late the breakers reach.
Slowly west the sun is setting, as we roam with trysting hands
Where the spray is white a moment on our footprints in the sands.
Shall our voices be remembered any more than winds that fled?
Youth and love beside the river little reckon of the dead.
How they brim the wide horizon, red and gold of sunset wines!
"Far away and long forgotten!" sings the wind in Carmel pines.

All the loves by Time defeated, how their sorrows haunt the heart!—
Beauty born to beauty's passing, souls united but to part
Wild, aeolian wind above me, hold you still their farewell sighs?
Time and tears dull not the splendor of the great, unhappy eyes.
Faces bent from cruel casements, lips forbidden, mute below,
Sad the light that falls upon you from the ages' afterglow.
Like a litten tear of Heaven now the star of evening shines,
"Far away and long forgotten!" sings the wind in Carmel pines.

Two and two beside the shoreline share the thunder and the foam,
Till beyond the dune or meadow love and twilight call them home
On the hills above the valley, bare of veiling grass and tree,
Grey and level lies the shoreline of the prehistoric sea.
You that wait by beach or woodland, you that share so brief a day,
Keep the troth that two have given, and the trysting while you may.
On their pathway in the heavens westward pass the solemn Signs.
"Far away and long forgotten!" sings the wind in Carmel pines.

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