[Supposed to be chanted to some rude instrument at a modern fireplace]
Chant we the story now Tho' in a house we sleep; Tho' by a hearth of coals Vigil to-night we keep. Chant we the story now, Of the vague love we knew When I from out the sea Rose to the feet of you.
Bird from the cliffs you came, Flew thro' the snow to me, Facing the icy blast There by the icy sea. How did I reach your feet? Why should I â€” at the end Hold out half-frozen hands Dumbly to you my friend? Ne'er had I woman seen, Ne'er had I seen a flame. There you piled fagots on, Heat rose â€” the blast to tame. There by the cave-door dark, Comforting me you cried â€” Wailed o'er my wounded knee, Wept for my rock-torn side.
Up from the South I trailed â€” Left regions fierce and fair! Left all the jungle-trees, Left the red tiger's lair. Dream led, I scarce knew why, Into your North I trod â€” Ne'er had I known the snow, Or the frost-blasted sod.
O how the flakes came down! O how the fire burned high! Strange thing to see he was, Thro' his dry twigs would fly, Creep there awhile and sleep â€” Then wake and bark for fight â€” Biting if I too near Came to his eye so bright. Then with a will you fed Wood to his hungry tongue.
Then he did leap and sing â€” Dancing the clouds among, Turning the night to noon, Stinging my eyes with light, Making the snow retreat, Making the cave-house bright.
There were dry fagots piled, Nuts and dry leaves and roots, Stores there of furs and hides, Sweet-barks and grains and fruits. There wrapped in fur we lay, Half-burned, half-frozen still â€” Ne'er will my soul forget All the night's bitter chill. We had not learned to speak, I was to you a strange Wolfling or wounded fawn, Lost from his forest-range.
Thirsting for bloody meat, Out at the dawn we went. Weighed with our prey at eve, Home-came we all forespent. Comrades and hunters tried Ere we were maid and man â€” Not till the spring awoke Laughter and speech began.
Whining like forest dogs, Rustling like budding trees, Bubbling like thawing springs, Humming like little bees, Crooning like Maytime tides, Chattering parrot words, Crying the panther's cry, Chirping like mating birds â€” Thus, thus, we learned to speak, Who mid the snows were dumb, Nor did we learn to kiss Until the Spring had come.