Fragrance of the Wind by William Alfred Quayle


The Gust of Wind

And winds laded with odors—you can not escape their sweet comradeship. And winds blowing across a field where haycocks exhale fragrance, who can escape their witchery? Such winds know how to spoil waters and fields and forests of spikenards and balsams. I have inhaled fragrance from winds blown fresh from the sea through moors of purple heather, and can I forget the poetry of it even in heaven? I pray I may not.
Winds of spring, apple-scented and with earth-smell in them! And walking through woods at night when dew drips from the leaves and the score or more of odors saturate the air, and the frog's song sings up from marshes and ravines as if that were audible odor, and starlight plays hide-and-seek with you through the foliage, when there puffs in your face the musk of many odors mixed, then you could catch the Wind and kiss her on the cheek like a girl, for sheer delight. Then when lilacs blow, and spring hastens on to June and white clover chokes the air with heavy perfumes, and roses tell in the dark where they are blooming by the fragrance they lent the breeze as it strayed indolently through their dear delights, or later, when harvests spill their essences to the languorous winds, and later still, when winds bear their sad freightage of autumn leaves falling, or fallen, and faded. O the wind is the poet laureate of autumn; and the lonely, tearful music and autumnal fragrance of leaf-distilled perfumes fairly drug the senses of the spirit till perforce the winds make us poets against our will and reason.
In one of Hosea Biglow's pastoral preludes (bless him who wrote them and gave us Hosea!) is a touch of genius in discriminating odors. "Mr. Wilbur sez to Hosea, 'Wut's the sweetest smell on airth?' 'Noomone hay,' sez I, pooty bresk, for he was alius hankerin" 'round in hayin'. 'Nawthin' of the kine,' sez he. 'My leetle Huldy's breath,' sez I ag'in.' 'You're a good lad,' sez he, his eyes sort of riplin' like, for he lost a babe onc't about her age—'the best of perfooms is just fresh air, fresh air,' sez he, emphysizin', 'athout no mixture.'" And that is worth thinking of. All odors the winds bear are defective as compared with the utter freshness of the moving airs themselves. "Jest fresh air,"—what an exhilarant that is. Drinking water spouting fresh from mountain snow drifts, and the blowing of clean air in the face, and the making your prayer to God when life grows hard or glad—are not these apart from all things else and allow of no comparisons. Similes are lifeless here. And the breath of a wind after a rain! Wind is unspeakable for music and odors. What a happy fate to be associated with such recollections. If man or woman might hope in coming years, when far beyond the sight of eyes or hearing of the ears, to stay sweet memories in hearts which could not forget them, what could human heart ask more? And I have known such folks. The mention of their names makes me think of sunlit fields. All sweet things lie adjacent to their personalities, just as trees and shade and gurgling brooks and trailing clouds and sublime solitudes and what seems the ragged frontiers of the world lie adjacent to huge mountains.
Winds are fortunate to be the carriers of aromas and music; to come freighted with the lilac's breath and the happy voices of happy women's laughter. But I do not hesitate to confess that the rarest wind I have ever experienced is blown from Kansas prairies on summer twilights. About midway in Kansas, east and west, is this wind in perfection. Nothing equals it. I have loved winds blown from briny seas and from the emerald deserts of great lakes and the St. Lawrence dreaming northward like a drifting ship, and from Alp and Sierra, and my belief still holds that for unutterable tenderness, part wind, part spirit, for poetry whose threads can never be unbraided, these Kansas
June prairie winds have not any competitor. This may be the love of my lifetime veering my judgment, though I incline to believe this is the judgment of a balanced and an equal mind. The prairie wind, as I tell you, has a witchery quite beyond the telling of any man. There have I walked along the shores of summer twilight as on the shores of blue and beautiful Galilee, and caressing, like an angel's hand, went the dear wind, and in it a voice, half whisper and half dream, its touch, like the shadow-touch of a fond hand passing across you, yet scarcely touching you; the hush, and after that the slow streaming wind, like a breath from heaven upon a pilgrimage across the spaces, so remote its origin appeared; and journeying not any whither, yet everywhere and in no haste, loverlike loving to linger for another kiss—such a wind withal as one might love to have kiss him on the face that evening, when, after a long journey, with bleeding feet, he walked in through some postern gate out on the fields of heaven sown to asphodels, and dim lights and violets and immortelles. Such is the twilight summer wind in Kansas when the prairie grasses stoop a little to let the zephyrs by. To feel this necromancy once is worth a pilgrimage; seeing it will endure among the luculent recollections of a happy life.
''The wind to-night is cool and free.
The wind to-night is westerly,
Sweeping in from the plains afar.
Sweet and faint.
My thoughts to-night are far and free.
My thoughts to-night are westerly;
Sweeping out on the plains afar.
Where roses grow and grasses are.
My heart to-night is wild and fiee.
My heart to-night is westerly,"
-JOHN NORTHERN HILLIARD.
George Macdonald has felt the heavenly hill- winds blow:
"O wind of God that blowest in the mind.
Blow, blow and wake the gentle spring in me:
Blow, swifter blow, a strong, warm summer wind,
Till all the flowers with eyes come out to see.
Blow till the fruit hangs red on every tree."
Blow, wind of God!