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Ii. The husking.

It was the pleasant harvest-time,
     When cellar-bins are closely stowed,
And garrets bend beneath their load,

And the old swallow-haunted barns,—
     Brown-gabled, long, and full of seams
Through which the moted sunlight streams,

And winds blow freshly in, to shake
     The red plumes of the roosted cocks,
And the loose hay-mow's scented locks,—

Are filled with summer's ripened stores,
     Its odorous grass and barley sheaves,
From their low scaffolds to their eaves.

[200] On Esek Harden's oaken floor,
     With many an autumn threshing worn,
Lay the heaped ears of unhusked corn.

And thither came young men and maids,
     Beneath a moon that, large and low,
Lit that sweet eve of long ago.

They took their places; some by chance,
     And others by a merry voice
Or sweet smile guided to their choice.

How pleasantly the rising moon,
     Between theshadow of the mows,
Looked on them through the great elmboughs!

On sturdy boyhood, sun-embrowned,
     On girlhood with its solid curves
Of healthful strength and painless nerves!

And jests went round, and laughs that made
     The house-dog answer with his howl,
And kept astir the barn-yard fowl;

And quaint old songs their fathers sung
     In Derby dales and Yorkshire moors,
Ere Norman William trod their shores;

And tales, whose merry license shook
     The fat sides of the Saxon thane,
Forgetful of the hovering Dane,—

[201] Rude plays to Celt and Cimbri known,
     The charms and riddles that beguiled
On Oxus' banks the young world's child,—

That primal picture-speech wherein
     Have youth and maid the story told,
So new in each, so dateless old,

Recalling pastoral Ruth in her
     Who waited, blushing and demure,
The red-ear's kiss of forfeiture.

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