Nicaragua jungle

Joaquin Miller

How wound we through the solid wood,
With all its broad boughs hung in green,
With lichen-mosses trailed between!
How waked the spotted beasts of prey,
Deep sleeping from the face of day,
And dashed them like a troubled flood
Down some defile and denser wood!

 And snakes, long, lithe, and beautiful
As green and graceful-boughed bamboo,
Did twist and twine them through and through      
The boughs that hung red-fruited full.
One, monster-sized, above me hung,
Close eyed me with his bright pink eyes,
Then raised his folds, and swayed and swung,
And licked like lightning his red tongue,     
Then oped his wide mouth with surprise;
He writhed and curved, and raised and lowered
His folds like liftings of the tide,
And sank so low I touched his side,
As I rode by, with my broad sword.     
The trees shook hands high overhead,
And bowed and intertwined across
The narrow way, while leaves and moss
And luscious fruit, gold-hued and red,
Through all the canopy of green,
Let not one sunshaft shoot between.
Birds hung and swung, green-robed and red,
Or drooped in curved lines dreamily,
Rainbows reversed, from tree to tree,
Or sang low-hanging overhead,—     
Sang low, as if they sang and slept,
Sang faint, like some far waterfall,
And took no note of us at all,
Though nuts that in the way were spread
Did crush and crackle as we stept.
Wild lilies, tall as maidens are,
As sweet of breath, as pearly fair,
As fair as faith, as pure as truth,
Fell thick before our every tread,
As in a sacrifice to ruth,     
And all the air with perfume filled
More sweet than ever man distilled.
The ripened fruit a fragrance shed
And hung in hand-reach overhead,
In nest of blossoms on the shoot,      
The bending shoot that bore the fruit.
How ran the monkeys through the leaves!
How rushed they through, brown-clad and blue,
Like shuttles hurried through and through
The threads a hasty weaver weaves!
How quick they cast us fruits of gold,
Then loosened hand and all foothold,
And hung limp, limber, as if dead,
Hung low and listless overhead;
And all the time, with half-oped eyes
Bent full on us in mute surprise,—
Looked wisely too, as wise hens do
That watch you with the head askew.

The long days through from blossomed trees
There came the sweet song of sweet bees
With chorus-tones of cockatoo
That slid his beak along the bough,
And walked and talked and hung and swung,
In crown of gold and coat of blue,
The wisest fool that ever sung,
Or had a crown, or held a tongue.

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