Connecticut Road Song Poem by Anna Hempstead Branch

Connecticut Road Song

In the wide and rocky pasture where the cedar trees are gray,
The briar rose was growing with the blueberry and bay.
The girls went forth to pick them and the lads went out to play,
But I had to get to Stonington before the break of day.

And when I came to Stonington, she was a town of pride.
'Come in,' they said, 'and labor, and be at home and bide.
For gold shall be thy wage,' but 't was past the hour of morn—
And I had to get to Jordan while the dew was on the thorn.

There is a girl at Jordan, she sweetly smiled at me,
As pale as are the berries on the gray cedar tree.
And 'Oh,' she cried, 'thou traveler, come bide awhile with me,'
But I had to get to Lebanon while light was in the tree.

The pale church spires of Lebanon shone sweet upon the sky.
The Sabbath bells were ringing, the parson passed me by.
'Oh wait, traveler, wait, for you've need to say a prayer,'
But I had to be in Wallingford while noon was in the air.

The road that leads to Wallingford, it runs through mire and stone.
I was parched with the dust, I was bleeding and alone.
'My lad, you will die, if you do not tarry here.'
But I had to get to Killingworth while day was on the mere.

And when I got to Killingworth I heard the people say
'He has come to bring the news from a hundred miles away.'
But I had not any news and not any time to stay,
For I had to be at Jericho before the end of day.

And when I came to Jericho I heard the people call,
'Do you run to save a city that you will not wait at all?'
'I run to save no city, yet must I leave you soon,
For I have to be in Windsor with the rising of the moon.'

And when I got to Windsor, then was I spent for bread.
'Come in,' they cried, 'poor traveler! and be thou comforted.
What strange great need is on thee that makes thee journey so?'
But I had to be in Coventry ere yet the moon was low.

For a strange great need was on me that I should hunt the rain,
And take into my body a breakage and a pain;
That I should tame the sunset and goad the hurry-ing plain,
And that the leagues behind me should lie a thousand slain.

Wherefore, ye men of Coventry, if ye desire to stay,
Lay not your curb upon me, that love the open way.
For I want to smell the dew, the blueberry and the bay,
And I have to get to Colchester before the break of day.

Solomon 19 September 2018

I like this poem more than her other work - very clever and somehow reminiscent of Housman.

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Anna Hempstead Branch

Anna Hempstead Branch

United States
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