Cobbler Keezar's Vision

The beaver cut his timber
With patient teeth that day,
The minks were fish-wards, and the crows
Surveyors of highway,-

When Keezar sat on the hillside
Upon his cobbler's form,
With a pan of coals on either hand
To keep his waxed-ends warm.

And there, in the golden weather,
He stitched and hammered and sung;
In the brook he moistened his leather,
In the pewter mug his tongue.

Well knew the tough old Teuton
Who brewed the stoutest ale,
And he paid the goodwife's reckoning
In the coin of song and tale.

The songs they still are singing
Who dress the hills of vine,
The tales that haunt the Brocken
And whisper down the Rhine.

Woodsy and wild and lonesome,
The swift stream wound away,
Through birches and scarlet maples
Flashing in foam and spray,-

Down on the sharp-horned ledges
Plunging in steep cascade,
Tossing its white-maned waters
Against the hemlock's shade.

Woodsy and wild and lonesome,
East and west and north and south;
Only the village of fishers
Down at the river's mouth;

Only here and there a clearing,
With its farm-house rude and new,
And tree-stumps, swart as Indians,
Where the scanty harvest grew.

No shout of home-bound reapers,
No vintage-song he heard,
And on the green no dancing feet
The merry violin stirred.

'Why should folk be glum,' said Keezar,
'When Nature herself is glad,
And the painted woods are laughing
At the faces so sour and sad?'

Small heed had the careless cobbler
What sorrow of heart was theirs
Who travailed in pain with the births of God,
And planted a state with prayers,-

Hunting of witches and warlocks,
Smiting the heathen horde,-
One hand on the mason's trowel,
And one on the soldier's sword.

But give him his ale and cider,
Give him his pipe and song,
Little he cared for Church or State,
Or the balance of right and wrong.

'T is work, work, work,' he muttered,-
'And for rest a snuffle of psalms!'
He smote on his leathern apron
With his brown and waxen palms.

'Oh for the purple harvests
Of the days when I was young
For the merry grape-stained maidens,
And the pleasant songs they sung!

'Oh for the breath of vineyards,
Of apples and nuts and wine
For an oar to row and a breeze to blow
Down the grand old river Rhine!'

A tear in his blue eye glistened,
And dropped on his beard so gray.
'Old, old am I,' said Keezar,
'And the Rhine flows far away!'

But a cunning man was the cobbler;
He could call the birds from the trees,
Charm the black snake out of the ledges,
And bring back the swarming bees.

All the virtues of herbs and metals,
All the lore of the woods, he knew,
And the arts of the Old World mingle
With the marvels of the New.

Well he knew the tricks of magic,
And the lapstone on his knee
Had the gift of the Mormon's goggles
Or the stone of Doctor Dee.

For the mighty master Agrippa
Wrought it with spell and rhyme
From a fragment of mystic moonstone
In the tower of Nettesheim.

To a cobbler Minnesinger
The marvellous stone gave he,-
And he gave it, in turn, to Keezar,
Who brought it over the sea.

He held up that mystic lapstone,
He held it up like a lens,
And he counted the long years coming
Ey twenties and by tens.

'One hundred years,' quoth Keezar,
'And fifty have I told
Now open the new before me,
And shut me out the old!'

Like a cloud of mist, the blackness
Rolled from the magic stone,
And a marvellous picture mingled
The unknown and the known.

Still ran the stream to the river,
And river and ocean joined;
And there were the bluffs and the blue sea-line,
And cold north hills behind.

But-the mighty forest was broken
By many a steepled town,
By many a white-walled farm-house,
And many a garner brown.

Turning a score of mill-wheels,
The stream no more ran free;
White sails on the winding river,
White sails on the far-off sea.

Below in the noisy village
The flags were floating gay,
And shone on a thousand faces
The light of a holiday.

Swiftly the rival ploughmen
Turned the brown earth from their shares;
Here were the farmer's treasures,
There were the craftsman's wares.

Golden the goodwife's butter,
Ruby her currant-wine;
Grand were the strutting turkeys,
Fat were the beeves and swine.

Yellow and red were the apples,
And the ripe pears russet-brown,
And the
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John Greenleaf Whittier

John Greenleaf Whittier was an influential American Quaker poet and ardent advocate of the abolition of slavery in the United States. more…

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"Cobbler Keezar's Vision" Poetry.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2019. Web. 11 Nov. 2019. <https://www.poetry.net/poem/22877/cobbler-keezar's-vision>.

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