Nay, be not June, nor yet December, dear,
But April always, as I find thee now:
A constant freshness unto me be thou,
And not the ripeness that must soon be sere.
Why should I be Time's dupe, and wish more near
The sobering harvest of thy vernal vow?
I am content, so still across thy brow
Returning smile chase transitory tear.
Then scatter thy April heart in sunny showers;
I crave nor Summer drouth nor Winter sleet:
As Spring be fickle, so thou be as sweet;
With half-kept promise tantalise the hours;
And let Love's frolic hands and woodland feet
Fill high the lap of Life with wilding flowers.

Love’s Fitfulness

You say that I am fitful. Sweet, 'tis true;
But 'tis that I your fitfulness obey.
If you are April, how can I be May,
Or flaunt bright roses when you wear sad rue?
Shine like the sun, and my sky will be blue;
Sing, and the lark shall envy me my lay:
I do but follow where you point the way,
And what I feel you doing, straight must do.
The wind might just as well reproach the vane,
As you upbraid me for my shiftings, dear:
Blow from the south, and south I shall remain;
If you keep fixed, be sure I shall not veer.
Nay, on your change my changes so depend,
If ends your love, why then my love must end.

I Chide Not At The Seasons

I chide not at the seasons, for if Spring
With backward look refuses to be fair,
My Love still more than April makes me sing,
And shows May blossom in the bleak March air.
Should Summer fail its tryst, or June delay
To wreathe my porch with roses red and pale,
Her breath is sweeter than the new-mown hay,
Her touch more clinging than the woodbine's trail.
Let Autumn like a spendthrift waste the year,
And reap no harvest save the fallen leaves,
My Love still ripeneth, though she grows not sere,
And smiles enthroned upon our piled-up sheaves.
And last, when miser Winter docks the days,
She warms my hearth and keeps my hopes ablaze.

Roses Crimson, Roses White

`Roses crimson, roses white,
Deadly pale or lovely blushing,
Both in love with May at sight,
And their maiden blood is rushing
To and fro in hope to hide
Tumult it but thus discloses.
Bring the Bridegroom to the Bride!
Everywhere are roses, roses.'

`Every wall is white with roses
`Every wall is white with roses,
Linnets pair in every tree;
Brim your beakers, twine your posies,
Kiss and quaff ere Springtime closes;
Bloom and beauty quickly flee.'

`Nay, let me sleep, or, best, be stone or steel
`Nay, let me sleep, or, best, be stone or steel,
While still endures this infamy of woe.
My one sole bliss is nor to see nor feel:
So, wake me not; and, lest you should, speak low.'

Sorrow’s Importunity

When Sorrow first came wailing to my door,
April rehearsed the madrigal of May;
And, as I ne'er had seen her face before,
I kept on singing, and she went her way.

When next came Sorrow, life was winged with scent
Of glistening laurel and full-blossoming bay:
I asked, but understood not, what she meant,
Offered her flowers, and she went her way.

When yet a third time Sorrow came, we met
In the ripe silence of an Autumn day:
I gave her fruit I had gathered, and she ate,
Then seemed to go unwillingly away.

When last came Sorrow, around barn and byre
Wind-carven snow, the Year's white sepulchre, lay.
``Come in,'' I said, ``and warm you by the fire.''
And there she sits, and never goes away.

An Autumn—blooming Rose

I found, and plucked, an autumn-blooming rose,
And shut my eyes, and scented all its savour:
When lo! as in the month the blackthorn blows,
Lambs 'gan to bleat, and merle and lark to quaver.

Flower of my life! inestimably dear,
Now that its calendar wanes sere and sober,
To me your freshness, turning back the year,
Makes that seem April others call October.

With me 'tis Autumn, and with you 'tis Spring,
But Love hath brought these seasons sweet together.
Within your leafy life I sit and sing,
And you with me share wealth of harvest weather.

Thus all things we exchange, and nothing lose:
Take you life's wisdom, lend to me life's sweetness.
Your vernal voice shall wed my mellow muse,
And song give youth, and youth give song, completeness.

A Birthday Present

```Say what, to please you, you would have me be.''
Then listen, dear!
I fain would have you very fair to see,
And sweet to hear.

`You should have Aphrodite's form and face,
With Dian's tread;
And something of Minerva's lofty grace
Should crown your head.

`Summer should wander in your voice, and Spring
Gleam in your gaze,
And pure thoughts ripen in your heart that bring
Calm Autumn days.

`Yours should be winning ways that make Love live,
And ne'er grow old,
With ever something yet more sweet to give,
Which you withhold.

`You should have generous hopes that can beguile
Life's doubts and fears,
And, ever waiting on your April smile,
The gift of tears.

`You should be close to us as earth and sea,
And yet as far
As Heaven itself. In sooth, I'd have you be
Just what you are.'

``Awake, awake, for the Springtime's sake,
March daffodils too long dreaming;
The lark is high in the spacious sky
And the celandine's stars are gleaming.
The gorse is ablaze, and the woodland sprays
Are as purple as August heather,
The buds unfurl, and mavis and merle
Are singing duets together.

``The rivulets run, first one by one,
Then meet in the swirling river,
And on out-peeping roots the sun-god shoots
The shafts of his golden quiver.
In the hazel copse the thrush never stops
Till with music the world seems ringing,
And the milkmaid hale, as she carries her pail,
Goes home to the dairy, singing:

``And the swain and his sweet in the love-lanes meet,
And welcome and face each other,
Till he folds her charms in his world-wide arms,
With kisses that blind and smother.''
Then the daffodils came, aflame, aflame,
In orchard, and garth, and cover,
And out April leapt, first smiled, then wept,
And longed for her May-day lover.

Why did you come when the trees were bare?
Why did you come with the wintry air?
When the faint note dies in the robin's throat,
And the gables drip and the white flakes float?

What a strange, strange season to choose to come,
When the heavens are blind and the earth is dumb:
When nought is left living to dirge the dead,
And even the snowdrop keeps its bed!

Could you not come when woods are green?
Could you not come when lambs are seen?
When the primrose laughs from its childlike sleep,
And the violets hide and the bluebells peep?

When the air as your breath is sweet, and skies
Have all but the soul of your limpid eyes,
And the year, growing confident day by day,
Weans lusty June from the breast of May?

Yet had you come then, the lark had lent
In vain his music, the thorn its scent,
In vain the woodbine budded, in vain
The rippling smile of the April rain.

Your voice would have silenced merle and thrush,
And the rose outbloomed would have blushed to blush,
And Summer, seeing you, paused, and known
That the glow of your beauty outshone its own.

So, timely you came, and well you chose,
You came when most needed, my winter rose.
From the snow I pluck you, and fondly press
Your leaves 'twixt the leaves of my leaflessness.

A Voice From The West

What is the voice I hear
On the wind of the Western Sea?
Sentinel, listen from out Cape Clear
And say what the voice may be.
``'Tis a proud, free people calling loud to a people proud and free.

``And it says to them, `Kinsmen, hail!
We severed have been too long.
Now let us have done with a worn-out tale-
The tale of an ancient Wrong;
And our friendship last long as Love doth last,
and be stronger than Death is strong!'''

Answer them, ``Sons of the self-same race,
And blood of the self-same clan,
Let us speak with each other face to face,
And answer man to man;
And loyally love and trust each other as none but free men can.

``So fling them out to the breeze,
Shamrock, Thistle, and Rose!
And the Star-Spangled Banner unfurl with these,
A message to friends and foes,
Wherever the sails of peace are seen and wherever the war-wind blows.

``A message to bond and thrall to wake:
For wherever we come, we twain,
The throne of the tyrant shall rock and quake,
And his menace be void and vain;
For you are lords of a strong, young land, and we are lords of the main.''

Yes, this is the voice on the bluff March gale:
``We severed have been too long.
But now we have done with a worn-out tale,
The tale of an ancient Wrong;
And our friendship shall last long as Love doth last, and be stronger than Death is strong!''

The Spring—time, O The Spring--Time

The Spring-time, O the Spring-time!
Who does not know it well?
When the little birds begin to build,
And the buds begin to swell.
When the sun with the clouds plays hide-and-seek,
And the lambs are bucking and bleating,
And the colour mounts to the maiden's cheek,
And the cuckoo scatters greeting;
In the Spring-time, joyous Spring-time!

The Summer, O the Summer!
Who does not know it well?
When the ringdoves coo the long day through,
And the bee refills his cell.
When the swish of the mower is heard at morn,
And we all in the woods go roaming,
And waiting is over, and love is born,
And shy lips meet in the gloaming;
In the Summer, ripening Summer!

The Autumn, O the Autumn!
Who does not know it well?
When the leaf turns brown, and the mast drops down,
And the chestnut splits its shell.
When we muse o'er the days that have gone before,
And the days that will follow after,
When the grain lies deep on the winnowing-floor,
And the plump gourd hangs from the rafter;
In the Autumn, thoughtful Autumn!

The Winter, O the Winter!
Who does not know it well?
When, day after day, the fields stretch gray,
And the peewit wails on the fell.
When we close up the crannies and shut out the cold,
And the wind sounds hoarse and hollow,
And our dead loves sleep in the churchyard mould,
And we feel that we soon shall follow;
In the Winter, mournful Winter!

SHE wanders in the April woods,
That glisten with the fallen shower;
She leans her face against the buds,
She stops, she stoops, she plucks a flower.
She feels the ferment of the hour:
She broodeth when the ringdove broods;
The sun and flying clouds have power
Upon her cheek and changing moods.
She cannot think she is alone,
As o’er her senses warmly steal
Floods of unrest she fears to own,
And almost dreads to feel.

Among the summer woodlands wide
Anew she roams, no more alone;
The joy she fear’d is at her side,
Spring’s blushing secret now is known.
The primrose and its mates have flown,
The thrush’s ringing note hath died;
But glancing eye and glowing tone
Fall on her from her god, her guide.
She knows not, asks not, what the goal,
She only feels she moves towards bliss,
And yields her pure unquestioning soul
To touch and fondling kiss.

And still she haunts those woodland ways,
Though all fond fancy finds there now
To mind of spring or summer days,
Are sodden trunk and songless bough.
The past sits widow’d on her brow,
Homeward she wends with wintry gaze,
To walls that house a hollow vow,
To hearth where love hath ceas’d to blaze:
Watches the clammy twilight wane,
With grief too fix’d for woe or tear;
And, with her forehead ’gainst the pane,
Envies the dying year.

Now let the cry, ``To Arms! To Arms!''
Go ringing round the world;
And swift a wave-wide Empire swarms
Round Battleflag unfurled!
Wherever glitters Britain's might,
Or Britain's banner flies,
Leap up mailed myriads with the light
Of manhood in their eyes;
Calling from farmstead, mart, and strand,
``We come! And we! And we!
That British steel may hold the land,
And British keels the sea!''

From English hamlet, Irish hill,
Welsh hearths, and Scottish byres,
They throng to show that they are still
Sons worthy of their sires:
That what these did, we still can do,
That what they were, we are,
Whose fathers fought at Waterloo,
And died at Trafalgar!
Shoulder to shoulder see them stand,
Wherever menace be,
To guard the lordship of the land
And the Trident of the sea.

Nor in the parent Isle alone
Spring squadrons from the ground;
Canadian shore and Austral zone
With kindred cry resound:
``From shimmering plain and snow-fed stream,
Across the deep we come,
Seeing the British bayonets gleam,
Hearing the British drum.
Foot in the stirrup, hilt in hand,
Free men, to keep men free,
All, all will help to hold the land
While England guards the sea!''

Comrades in arms, from every shore
Where thundereth the main,
On to the front they press and pour
To face the rifles' rain;
To force the foe from covert crag,
And chase them till they fall,
Then plant for ever England's Flag
Upon the rebel wall!
What! Wrench the Sceptre from her hand,
And bid her bow the knee!
Not while her Yeomen guard the land,
And her ironclads the sea!

She came into the April air,
And passed across the silvery lawn;
Blithe was her voice, her brow was bare,
And rippled from her radiant hair
The glow and glory of the dawn.
Her footfall scared nor doe nor fawn,
No timid songster ceased to sing;
But, wheresoe'er she strayed or stood,
Her maiden coming seemed to bring
A wider wonder to the wood,
And more of magic to the Spring.

When June is throned, and round her blows
The rambling briar and lily tall,
I saw her watch the buds unclose,
Herself, herself the loveliest rose,
And stateliest lily of them all.
The blackbirds' fluting, cuckoo's call,
She scarcely heard, for trembled near,
And thrilled her wheresoe'er she strayed,
That note more deep, that voice more dear,
That lures to love the listening maid,
When half is fondness, half is fear.

Among the rows of ripened sheaves,
And orchard harvests golden-red,
The tapestry that Autumn weaves
From fallen fruit and fading leaves,
Pensive she paced with matron tread.
Low was her voice, but all she said
Seemed strangely true, and deeply wise;
And mute her offspring gathered round,
To gaze into her tranquil eyes,
And listen to the sacred sound
Of mellow words and meek replies.

Now by the wintry hearth she sits,
Grey guardian of the household fire,
Foretells the Future, as she knits,
Then back her loving memory flits
To bygone days and dead desire.
Anon her fingers seem to tire,
And weary sense to droop its wing;
But, though her gaze hath feebler grown,
Nor knows she what the children sing,
She sees the Lamb before the Throne,
And hears the Angels canticling.

Lo, here among the rest you sleep,
As though no difference were
'Twixt them and you, more wide, more deep,
Than such as fondness loves to keep
Round each lone sepulchre.

Yet they but human, you divine,
Warmed by that heavenly breath,
Which, when ephemeral lights decline,
Like lamp before nocturnal shrine,
Still burneth after death.

Yes, here in Tuscan soil you lie,
With Tuscan turf above;
And, lifting silent spires on high,
The cypresses remind the sky
Of the city of your love.

And you did grow so like to her
Wherein you dwelt so long,
Your thoughts, like her May roses, were
Untrained, unchecked, but how astir,
And oh how sweet, with song!

The Poet of Olympian mien
His frenzy doth control,
And, gazing on the dread Unseen,
Keep mind majestic, will serene,
And adamantine soul.

He, save to Wisdom sternly true,
Is but the sport of Fate
And gladiatorial pain. But you!
A poet, and a woman too!
The burden was too great.

And so you laid it down, and here,
Oblivious of life's load,
Quiet you sleep through all the year,
Young Spring, staid Summer, Autumn sere,
And Winter's icy goad.

The swallows, freshly on the wing,
In April's sun rejoice;
The nightingales unceasing sing;
Yes, Spring brings back the birds of Spring,
But not, alas! your voice.

So round your sleep I soft let fall
Frail emblems of regret;
The lowly wind-flower, tulip tall,
The iris mantling wayside wall,
And weeping violet.

My votive flowers to-day will blow,
To-morrow be decayed;
But, though long sunk from sight, I know,
The glory of your afterglow
Will never wholly fade.

The Lover’s Song

When Winter hoar no longer holds
The young year in his gripe,
And bleating voices fill the folds,
And blackbirds pair and pipe;
Then coax the maiden where the sap
Awakes the woodlands drear,
And pour sweet wildflowers in her lap,
And sweet words in her ear.
For Springtime is the season, sure,
Since Love's game first was played,
When tender thoughts begin to lure
The heart of April maid,
Of maid,
The heart of April maid.

When June is wreathed with wilding rose,
And all the buds are blown,
And O, 'tis joy to dream and doze
In meadows newly mown;
Then take her where the graylings leap,
And where the dabchick dives,
Or where the bees in clover reap
The harvest for their hives.
For Summer is the season when,
If you but know the way,
A maid that's kissed will kiss again,
Then pelt you with the hay,
The hay,
Then pelt you with the hay.

When sickles ply among the wheat,
Then trundle home the sheaves,
And there's a rustling of the feet
Through early-fallen leaves;
Entice her where the orchard glows
With apples plump and tart,
And tell her plain the thing she knows,
And ask her for her heart.
For Autumn is the season, boy,
To gather what we sow:
If you be bold, she won't be coy,
Nor ever say you no,
Say no,
Nor ever say you no.

When woodmen clear the coppice lands,
And arch the hornbeam drive,
And stamp their feet, and chafe their hands,
To keep their blood alive;
Then lead her where, when vows are heard,
The church-bells peal and swing,
And, as the parson speaks the word,
Then on her clap the ring.
For Winter is a cheerless time
To live and lie alone;
But what to him is snow or rime,
Who calls his love his own,
His own,
Who calls his love his own?

A March Minstrel

Hail! once again, that sweet strong note!
Loud on my loftiest larch,
Thou quaverest with thy mottled throat,
Brave minstrel of bleak March!

Hearing thee flute, who pines or grieves
For vernal smiles and showers?
Thy voice is greener than the leaves,
And fresher than the flowers.

Scorning to wait for tuneful May
When every throat can sing,
Thou floutest Winter with thy lay,
And art thyself the Spring.

While daffodils, half mournful still,
Muffle their golden bells,
Thy silvery peal o'er landscape chill
Surges, and sinks, and swells.

Across the unsheltered pasture floats
The young lamb's shivering bleat:
There is no trembling in thy notes,
For all the snow and sleet.

Let the bullace bide till frosts have ceased,
The blackthorn loiter long;
Undaunted by the blustering east,
Thou burgeonest into song.

Yet who can wonder thou dost dare
Confront what others flee?
Thy carol cuts the keen March air
Keener than it cuts Thee.

The selfish cuckoo tarrieth till
April repays his boast.
Thou, thou art lavish of thy trill,
Now when we need it most.

The nightingale, while birds are coy,
Delays to chant its grief.
Brave throstle! thou dost pipe for joy
With never a bough in leaf.

Even fond turtle-doves forbear
To coo till woods are warm:
Thou hast the heart to love and pair
Ere the cherry blossoms swarm.

The skylark, fluttering to be heard
In realms beyond his birth,
Soars vainly heavenward. Thou, wise bird!
Art satisfied with earth.

Thy home is not upon the ground,
Thy hope not in the sky:
Near to thy nest thy notes resound,
Neither too low nor high.

Blow what wind will, thou dost rejoice
To carol, and build, and woo.
Throstle! to me impart thy voice;
Impart thy wisdom too.

Three Sonnets Written In Mid-Channel

Now upon English soil I soon shall stand,
Homeward from climes that fancy deems more fair;
And well I know that there will greet me there
No soft foam fawning upon smiling strand,
No scent of orange-groves, no zephyrs bland,
But Amazonian March, with breast half bare
And sleety arrows whistling through the air,
Will be my welcome from that burly land.
Yet he who boasts his birthplace yonder lies,
Owns in his heart a mood akin to scorn
For sensuous slopes that bask 'neath Southern skies,
Teeming with wine and prodigal of corn,
And, gazing through the mist with misty eyes,
Blesses the brave bleak land where he was born.

And wherefore feels he thus? Because its shore
Nor conqueror's foot nor despot's may defile,
But Freedom walks unarmed about the isle,
And Peace sits musing beside each man's door.
Beyond these straits, the wild-beast mob may roar,
Elsewhere the veering demagogue beguile:
We, hand in hand with the Past, look on and smile,
And tread the ways our fathers trod before.
What though some wretch, whose glory you may trace
Past lonely hearths and unrecorded graves,
Round his Sword-sceptre summoning swarms of slaves,
Menace our shores with conflict or disgrace,-
We laugh behind the bulwark of the waves,
And fling the foam defiant in his face.

And can it be,-when Heaven this deep moat made,
And filled it with the ungovernable seas,
Gave us the winds for rampart, waves for frise,
Behind which Freedom, elsewhere if betrayed,
Might shelter find, and flourish unafraid,-
That men who learned to lisp at English knees
Of English fame, to pamper womanish ease
And swell the surfeits of voracious trade
Shall the impregnable breakers undermine,
Take ocean in reverse, and, basely bold,
Burrow beneath the bastions of the brine?-
Nay, England, if the citadel be sold
For lucre thus, Tarpeia's doom be thine,
And perish smothered in a grave of gold!

Where Apennine slopes unto Tuscan plain,
And breaks into dimples, and laughs to flowers,
To see where the terrors of Winter wane,
And out of a valley of grape and grain
There blossoms a City of domes and towers,

Teuton, Lombard, and grasping Gaul,
Prince and Pontiff, have forced their way,
Have forded the river, and scaled the wall,
And made in its palaces stye and stall,
Where spears might glisten and war-steeds neigh.

But ever since Florence was fair and young,
And the sun upon turret and belfry shone,
Were her windows bannered and joy-bells rung,
When back to his saddle the Stranger sprung,
And lances were lifted and pikemen gone.

Yes, ever and ever till you, my Queen,
Came over the sea that is all your own,
When the tear on the tip of the vine is seen,
And the fig-tree cressets have flamed to green,
And windflower wakened, and tulip blown.

Then roses were showered before your feet,
And her lily-crowned gonfalons waved above,
And children chanted in square and street,
`All hail to the Monarch may free men greet,
Whose sceptre is Peace, and whose Throne is Love.'

And now that each snow-torrent foams and falls,
And the oreoles sing and the skylarks soar,
And the lithe swallow circles her rose-white walls,
Through the clefts of the Apennine Florence calls,
`More welcome than Spring, come back once more!

`Come back, for the cuckoo is on its way,
And the mountains, smiling, await your smile;
And still in my olive-groves bask and stray,
Till the warm-winged waters and winds of May
Shall waft you back to your own loved Isle.'

`The sickle hath performed its work
`The sickle hath performed its work,
The storm-gusts sweep the aspens bare,
Careering clouds and shadows mirk
Cow the disheartened air.

`No swallow circles round the roof,
No chirp redeems the dripping shed;
The very gables frown reproof,
``Why not already fled?'''

Free Will And Fate

`You ask me why I envy not
The Monarch on his throne.
It is that I myself have got
A Kingdom of my own:
Kingdom by Free Will divine
Made inalienably mine,
Where over motions blind and brute
I live and reign supreme, a Sovereign absolute.

`Ebbing and flowing as the seas,
And surging but to drown,
Think you that I will pass to these
My Sceptre and my Crown?
Unto rebel passions give
Empire and prerogative?
They are attendants in my train,
To come when I command, and crouch as I ordain.

`If Will by long succession be
Not arbiter of Fate,
Assail its majesty, and see
If it doth abdicate.
Chains that do the body bind
Cannot manacle the mind.
What fetters may the heart control,
Nor doth the Tyrant live that can enslave the soul.

`In Spring, when linnets lift their voice
To praise the Lord and bless,
They are thus punctual of free choice,
Detesting waywardness.
Throughout earth, and sky, and sea,
Law is loving liberty,
That could, but will not, go astray,
And, free though to rebel, delighteth to obey.

`And Spirit, though encased in clay,
To sense's grovelling mood
Accepteth not, befall what may,
Ignoble servitude.
In the faggot thrust the torch,
Till the flame-tongues search and scorch.
Calmly the martyr mounts the pyre,
And smiles amid the smoke, and prays above the fire.

`Nor is it Fate directs the waves,
Or dominates the wind:
They are God's servants, not His slaves,
And they surmise His mind.
If the planets walk aright
Though the dim and trackless night,
Nor their true pathway ever miss,
Know ye it is because their Will is one with His!'

`What is it rules thy singing season?
`What is it rules thy singing season?
Instinct, that diviner Reason,
To which the wish to know seemeth a sort of treason.'

`Why dost thou ever cease to sing?
Singing is such sweet comfort, who,
If he could sing the whole year through,
Would barter it for anything?'

The love within my heart that dwells
Knows nought of days or hours;
I hear thee in the Christmas bells,
I feel thee in the vernal showers;
And thy breath is blent with the wandering scent
Of the summer fruits and flowers.

And yet this morn my blood is stirred
With more than wonted glow;
Thy absent voice is strangely heard,
Thy spells upon me stronger grow;
And my spirit sips from unseen lips
That can be but thine, I know.

For thou wast born upon this day,
When I was but a child,
Ere winter frosts were ta'en away,
Ere primroses peeped out and smiled;
Ere the snows were reft from the sheltering cleft,
And the winds were high and wild.

Thus early unto me wast thou
An earnest of the spring;
Of happy birds upon the bough,
And sweet trees blossoming;
Of all that is fair upon earth, in air,
And the streams that bound and sing.

I wonder what the world was like
Before thou didst appear-
Did young lambs skip o'er mound and dyke?
Did throstles warble loud and clear?
And were sea and sky as deep and high
As they are now thou art here?

It were a dreary world indeed
To me, wert thou away;
The night no tumults sweet would breed,
No tranquil dalliance the day;
And though earth should fling all that Fame can bring
At my feet, I would not stay.

So, though sore-severed still we be,
Here, helpful one, remain!
Through travels long a bourne to me,
A crowning joy 'mid crushing pain;
An abiding star when the storm-waves jar,
And a rainbow 'mid the rain.

And fear not, sweet, but love like ours
Will keep us ever young:
No prey to the corroding hours,
No feast for the malignant tongue,
But as firm and fond in the years beyond
As when first we clasped and clung.

Age cannot touch such charms as thine;
My heart defies the sun:
Both shall but glow yet more divine,
His course more oft as he may run:
Till we spurn the earth for that second birth,
When we twain shall be only one.

December Matins

``Why, on this drear December morn,
Dost thou, lone Misselthrush, rehearse thy chanting?
The corals have been rifled from the thorn,
The pastures lie undenizened and lorn,
And everywhere around there seems a something wanting.''
Whereat, as tho' awondering at my wonder,
And brooded somewhere nigh a love-mate nesting,
He more loud and longer still
'Gan to tremble and to trill,
Height after height of sound robustly breasting;
As if o'erhead were Heaven of blue, and under,
Fresh green leafage, and he would
Cleave with shafts of hardihood
The mists asunder.

Only the singer it is foresees,
Only the Poet has the voice foretelling.
When the ways harden and the sedge-pools freeze,
He hears light-hearted Spring upon the breeze,
And feels the hawthorn buds mysteriously swelling.
Though to the eaves the icicles are clinging,
Or from the sunward gables dripping, dripping,
He with inward gaze beholds
Liberated flocks and folds,
The runnels leaping, and the young lambs skipping,
And dauntless daffodils anew upspringing,
So throughout the wintry days
Meditates prophetic lays,
And keeps on singing.

Not the full-volumed Springtime song,
Not April's note with rapture overflowing,
Melodious cadence, early, late, and long,
Now low and suing, now serenely strong,
But the heart's intimations musically showing
That Love and Verse are never out of season.
Though the winds bluster, and the branches splinter,
He, through cold and dire distress,
Companioned by cheerfulness,
Descries young Mayday through the mask of Winter.
Doubt and despair to him were veilëd treason,
Fashioned never to despond,
By Foreseeing far beyond
The range of Reason.

Therefore, brave bird, sing on, for some to hear
If faintly, fitfully, and though to-morrow
Will be the shortest day of all the year,
Though fields be flowerless and fallows drear,
And earth seems cherishing some secret sorrow,
The dawn will come when it anew will glisten
With tears of gladness, glen and dingle waken,
Winter's tents be furled and routed,
April notes be sung and shouted,
Over the fleeing host and camp forsaken;
The nightingale ne'er cease, the cuckoo christen
Hedgerow posies with its call,
And unto glee and madrigal
The whole world listen.

When I am gone, I pray you shed
No tears upon the grassy bed
Where that which you have loved is laid
Under the wind-warped yew-tree's shade.
And let no sombre pomp prepare
My unreturning journey there,
Nor wailing words nor dirges deep
Disturb the quiet of my sleep;
But tender maidens, robed in white,
Who have not yet forgotten quite
The love I sought, the love I gave,
Be the sole mourners round my grave.
And neither then, nor after, raise
The bust of pride, the slab of praise,
To him who, having sinned and striven,
Now only asks to be forgiven,
That he is gone.

When I am gone, you must not deem
That I am severed, as I seem,
From all that still enchains you here,
Throughout the long revolving year.
When, as to Winter's barren shore
The tides of Spring return once more,
And, wakened by their flashing showers,
The woodland foams afresh with flowers,
You sally forth and ramble wide,
I shall walk silent at your side,
Shall watch your mirth, shall catch your smile,
Shall wander with you all the while,
And, as in many a bygone Spring,
Hear cuckoo call and ousel sing.
And, when you homeward wend, along
A land all blithe with bleat and song,
Where lambs that skip and larks that soar
Make this old world seem young once more,
And with the wildwood flowers that fill
Your April laps deck shelf and sill,
I shall be there to guide your hand,
And you will surely understand
I am not gone.

When Summer leans on Autumn's arm,
And warm round grange and red-roofed farm
Is piled the wain and thatched the stack,
And swallows troop and fieldfares pack;
When round rough trunk and knotted root
Lies thick the freshly-fallen fruit,
And 'mong the orchard aisles you muse
On what we gain, on what we lose,
Now vernal cares no more annoy,
And wisdom takes the place of joy,
I shall be there, as in past years,
To share your steps, to dry your tears,
To note how Autumn days have brought
Feelings mature and mellow thought,
The fruitful grief for others' smart,
The ripeness of a human heart.
And, when the winds wax rude and loud,
And Winter weaves the stark year's shroud,
As round the flickering household blaze
You sit and talk of vanished days,
Of parent, friend, no longer nigh,
And loves that in the churchyard lie,
And lips grow weak, and lids grow wet,
Then, then, I shall be with you yet,
Though I seem gone.

Farewell To Spring

I saw this morning, with a sudden smart,
Spring preparing to depart.
I know her well and so I told her all my heart.

``Why did you, Spring, your coming so delay,
If, now here, you cannot stay?
You win my love and then unloving pass away.

``We waited, waited, O so long, so long,
Just to hear the ousel's song.
To-morrow 'twill be hushed, to-day that is so strong.

``Day after day, and dawn again on dawn,
Winter's shroud was on the lawn,
So still, so smooth, we thought 'twould never be withdrawn.

`Now that at last your welcome mimic snow
Doth upon the hawthorn blow,
It bides not on the bough, but melts before we know.

``Scarce hath the primrose o'er the sordid mould
Lavished treasure, than behold!
Our wealth of simple joy is robbed of all its gold.

``When to the woods we hie with feet of mirth,
Now the hyacinths have birth,
Swiftly the blue of Heaven fades from the face of earth.

``You with dry gusts and unrelenting wrack
Kept the liquid cuckoo back.
Now, even ere he goes, he turneth hoarse, alack!

``When, in the long warm nights of June,
Nightingales have got their tune,
Their sweet woe dies, and we are beggared of the boon.

``First drops the bloom, then darkens the green leaf;
Everything in life is brief,
Save autumn's deepening gloom and winter's changeless grief.''

Then with a smile thus answered me the Spring:
``To my voice and flight you cling,
For I, before I perch, again am on the wing.

``With you were I the whole year round to stay,
'Twould be you that went away,
Your love made fickle by monotony of May.

``Love cannot live save upon love beyond.
Leaving you, I keep you fond,
Not letting you despair, but making you despond.

`Farewell, and love me still, my lover dear,
Love me till another year,
And you, if you be true, again will find me here.''

Then darker, deeper, waxed the woods; the ground
Flowerless turned and then embrowned;
And less was of sweet scent, and less was of sweet sound.

Mute was the mavis, moulted was the thorn,
Meads were cut, and lambs were shorn,
And I by Spring was left forsaken and forlorn.

Forlorn, forsaken, shall I be until
Primrose peep and throstle shrill,
And in the orchard gleam the outriding daffodil.

Then shall I know that Spring among the trees
Hiding is, and that the breeze
Anew will fling abroad odours and melodies.

A Poet’s Eightieth Birthday

``He dieth young whom the Gods love,'' was said
By Greek Menander; nor alone by One
Who gave to Greece his English song and sword
Re-echoed is the saying, but likewise he
``Who uttered nothing base,'' and from whose brow,
By right divine, the laurel lapsed to yours,-
Great sire, great successor,-in verse confirmed
The avowal of ``the Morning-Star of Song,''
Happiest is he that dieth in his flower.
Yet can it be that it is gain, not loss,
To quit the pageant of this life before
The heart hath learnt its meaning; leave half-seen,
Half-seen, half-felt, and not yet understood,
The beauty and the bounty of the world;
The fertile waywardness of wanton Spring,
Summer's deep calm, the modulated joy
Of Autumn conscious of a task fulfilled,
And home-abiding Winter's pregnant sleep,
The secret of the seasons? Gain, to leave
The depths of love unfathomed, its heights unscaled,
Rapture and woe unreconciled, and pain
Unprized, unapprehended? This is loss,
Loss and not gain, sheer forfeiture of good,
Is banishment from Eden, though its fruit
Remains untasted.

Interpret then the oracle, ``He dies young
Whom the Gods love,'' for Song infallible
Hath so pronounced! . . . Thus I interpret it:
The favourites of the Gods die young, for they,
They grow not old with grief and deadening time,
But still keep April moisture in their heart
May's music in their ears. Their voice revives,
Revives, rejuvenates, the wintry world,
Flushes the veins of gnarled and knotted age,
And crowns the majesty of life with leaves
As green as are the sapling's.

Thrice happy Poet! to have thus renewed
Your youth with wisdom,-who, though life still seems
To your fresh gaze as frolic and as fair
As in the callow season when your heart
Was but the haunt and pairing-place and nest
Of nightingale and cuckoo, have enriched
Joy's inexperienced warblings with the note
Of mellow music, and whose mind mature,
Laden with life's sustaining lessons, still
Gleams bright with hope; even as I saw, to-day,
An April rainbow span the August corn.

Long may your green maturity maintain
Its universal season; and your voice,
A household sound, be heard about our hearths,
Now as a Christmas carol, now as the glee
Of vernal Maypole, now as harvest song.
And when, like light withdrawn from earth to heaven,
Your glorious gloaming fades into the sky,
We, looking upward, shall behold you there,
Shining amid the young unageing stars.

World! to arms!
Do you shrink?
What! shrink when the hoofs of the Cossack are crushing
The bosom of mother, the tonsure of priest,
And the youth of a nation, pain-maddened, is rushing
On visible doom, as to tourney or feast?
When the savagest hell-hounds that ever existed
Are hunting the tender and brave of our race,
And the lash of the insolent Tartar is twisted
With mock of defiance, and cracked in your face-
Do you shrink?

World! to arms!
Do you shrink, gallant France, when the blood of a nation,
Ne'er stinted for you, for itself flows in vain?
Aroused by the might of a grand inspiration,
Avenge with your war-clang the souls of the slain.
If you shrink, may you never know ending or respite
To strife internecine and factional hate,
Except when the hand of liberticide despot
Imposes on all one opprobrious fate!
France! to arms!

Do you shrink?
You! politic Austria! now that you only,
If feebly you hesitate, hasten your doom-
Have you yet not discovered that, selfish and lonely,
An Empire but marches blindfold to the tomb?
Let a penitent sword in sublime vindication
Of Freedom its manifold mischiefs undo:
If you shrink, may the multiplied wrongs of each nation
You ever have outraged be hurled back on you!
Do you shrink?

World! to arms!
O my beautiful Italy! nought of misgiving
Doth trouble the summons that touches your pride;
The graves of your slaughtered are fresh, but your living
Are throbbing to conquer, or sleep at their side.
By your maidens equipped, in whose beauty exult you,
Your sons must make ready with pennon and sheen
To go straight. If you shrink-but I will not insult you,
Who, often unfortunate, never were mean.
Then, to arms!

World! to arms!
Do you shrink?
Shrink! England! what! shrink when intoxicate Tartar,
Deriding your wrath, rides in blood to the waist?
When the flesh of the virgin, the bones of the martyr,
The breast of the matron, are bared and defaced?
Do you deem diplomatic frivolities ample
To save you your title of moral and just,
When a horde of ensanguined barbarians trample
Mankind and remonstrance alike in the dust?
England shrink?
No! to arms!

All! to arms!
Will you wait till behind the impassable rampart
Of winter they laugh at your impotent rage,
And your war-nostrils frozen, your ironclads hampered,
Destruction-then ``Order''-shall swoop on the stage?
Yes! the spring will come back, and unbar you the ocean,
But will not the sinews relax of the slain:
Swift! to arms! Set the vengeance-charged tumbrils in motion,
As dread as God's thunder, as blest as His rain!

Another Spring Carol

Now Winter hath drifted
To bygone years,
And the sod is uplifted
By crocus spears;
And out of the hive the bee wings humming,
And we know that the Spring, the Spring, is coming.

For the snow hath melted
From sunless cleft,
And the clouds that pelted
Slant sleet have left
The sky as blue as a child's gaze after
Its tears have vanished and veered to laughter.

See! light is gleaming
In primrose brakes,
And out of its dreaming
The speedwell wakes,
And the tender tips of the timid clover
Peep forth to see if the frost be over.

The celandine gazes
Straight at the sun;
The starlike daisies
Peer one by one;
And, over the pool where the sallow glistens,
The daffodil hangs its head and listens.

At first but single,
And then in flocks,
In dell and dingle
The lady-smocks
Make mist for the golden cowslip tapers
To shine like sunrise through morning vapours.

In fat-ribbed fallows
The lapwings nest,
And the home-coming swallows
Seek out where best
They may build, with a love that is sure and stable,
Their cosy cribs under last year's gable.

The blackcaps treble
A strain as sweet
As stream o'er pebble,
Or wind through wheat,
While, like flickering light, the kinglet hovers
Round woodbined haven of hiding lovers.

The lark chants, soaring
From moist brown heath,
'Twixt Heaven's high flooring
And earth beneath,
Like a true wise poet, in wavering weather,
A carol to link the twain together.

The cuckoo, flaunting
O'er glen and glade,
Flies loudly vaunting
New loves betrayed,
Till we all of us echo the madcap saying,
And laugh, and joyously wend a'maying.

Then in mask and tabard
The mummer trips,
And out of its scabbard
The iris slips,
And calls to the lily and rose, ``Why tarry,
Now the nightingale under the silence starry,

``Keeps trilling, trilling,
Its nest above,
The descant thrilling
Of straining love,
That yearneth for more-more-more,-till gladness,
Still winged with wanting, seems one with sadness.''

But once the roses
And lilies blow,
Our wilding posies
Follow the snow,
And, turning to greet the fair new comer,
We find the face of the fearless Summer.

But though sultry shimmer
And panting heat
Lure senses dimmer
To deem them sweet,
Who would not exchange their passionate thunder
For May's moist blushes of maiden wonder?

But Winter hath drifted
To bygone years,
And the sod is uplifted
By crocus spears;
And out of the hive the bee wings humming,
And we know that the Spring is coming, coming!

All the seasons of the year,
I have flowers for you, dear.
When the ploughland's flecked with snow,
And the blue-eyed scyllas blow,
Gazing, through the wintry gale,
Like your eyes when you are pale;
When in many a cloistered walk
Droop upon their modest stalk
Vestal snowdrops, one by one,
White as is a wimpled nun;
When, as sleet away doth slip,
And the thawing gables drip,
The precocious crocus peers,-
Childlike, sunshine half, half tears,-
And from out the snug warm leaves
Silent housewife Winter weaves,
Scarlet windflowers, wide unfurled,
Dazzle an awakened world;
These and more to you I bring,
Bold outriders of the Spring.

When along the Northern skies
Routed Winter shrieks and flies,
And again the mavis shrills,
Come the dauntless daffodils,
Laughing, as they sway and swing,
At rude March's blustering.
These I gather, and with these
Rosy-white anemones,
Like the coral-shells you wear
Sometimes in your hazel hair;
Primroses loved none the less
For their wilding lavishness;
Honeysuckle, like to you,
To what's near it clinging true;
Violets, surprised in shade,
By their own sweet breath betrayed;
Lagging hawthorn prized the more
That it long was waited for;
These unto your bower I bring,
Gifts of Summer lent to Spring.

Which are loveliest, lilies dight
In their stateliness of white,
Safe against a touch too rude
By their cold proud maidenhood,
Or the unreservëd rose,
Careless where it gads or goes,
So it be allowed to cling,
Rioting and revelling?
Rose and lily both I cull,
Iris scarce less beautiful,
Mignonette more sweet than myrrh,
Homely-smelling lavender,
Pinks and pansies, golden whin,
Constellated jessamine,
Bunches of the maiden's-bower,
Tufts of gaudy gillyflower,
Sprays of softening maidenhair;
With my posy mount your stair
To the chamber where you sit,
Tenderly awaiting it.

Then, when gorgeous Summer wanes,
Autumn woods and Winter lanes
Do I haunt, that I may dress
With their lingering loveliness
Nook and ingle where you be
Busy with your housewifery:
Ripened reedmace' barren sheaves,
Hardy hornbeam's russet leaves,
Jewels from the spindle-tree,
Coral-fruited briony,
Crimson haws and purple sloes,
Rubies that were once the rose,
Holly-berries warm in snow,
Amber-beaded misletoe,
Everything the waning year
Spares, that I may bring you, dear.

But should frost and rifling wind
Leave not even these behind,
And from out the leafless blast
I must come to you at last
Empty-handed, you would be
More than all the flowers to me.

If You Were Mine, If You Were Mine,

`If you were mine, if you were mine,
The day would dawn, the stars would shine,
The sun would set, the moon arise,
In holier and yet heavenlier skies.
Then unto me the Year would bring
A younger April, fresher Spring.
I should not then seek sylvan ways
For primrose clusters, woodbine sprays,
To hear the mavis' matin tale,
Or nocturn of the nightingale.
For at your coming there would pass
A glow, a glory, o'er the grass,
The flowers would in your gaze rejoice,
The wildwood carol in your voice,
Returning gleam chase lingering gloom,
And life be never out of bloom,
If you were mine!

`If you were mine, I should not know
In what fair month the roses blow,
When the pure lily bares her brow,
Or ringdoves coo their nuptial vow.
For, with your hand soft-clasped in mine,
I still should smell the eglantine,
And, wheresoe'er our steps should stray,
The incense of the new-mown hay.
By restless wave or restful mere,
In wanderings far or wanderings near,
On cheerful down, in pensive glen,
It would be always Summer then,
If you were mine.

`If you were mine, I should not fear
The warnings of the waning year,
The garnering sickle, girdled sheaf,
The falling acorn, floating leaf,
Moisture of eve and haze of morn,
Pearls turned to rubies on the thorn,
The silvering tress on fading brow,
The dimples that are furrows now.
For, leaving summits once I clomb,
With you, would seem but wending home.
Leaning on love in life's decline,
More sweet the shadow than the shine,
The cushat's perch than swallow's wing,
And Autumn peace than pomp of Spring,
If you were mine.

`If you were mine, how then should I
Heed frozen fallow, churlish sky,
Bleak, songless branches, sapless rind,
The wailing of the homeless wind,
The dwindling days, the deepening snow,
The dull, dead weight of wintry woe?
For, harkening to the Christmas peal
Without, our hearts within would feel,
In glowing rafter, flickering blaze,
The sunshine of departed days,
And round the hearth dear memories swarm
To keep life young, to keep love warm,
If you were mine.'

`Yet you are mine, yes, you are mine.
No length of land, no breadth of brine,
Can keep whom spirit links, apart,
Or make an exile of the heart.
And when from soul, no more the thrall
Of sense, the fleshly fetters fall,
And, purified by combats past,
Long-martyred love is crowned at last,
You then before the Heavenly Throne
Will take my hand, nor blush to own,
That you were mine!'

When June is wreathed with wilding rose
When June is wreathed with wilding rose,
And all the buds are blown,
And O, 'tis joy to dream and doze
In meadows newly mown,
Go take her where the graylings leap,
And where the dabchick dives,
Or where the bees from clover reap
The harvest for their hives;
For Summer is the season when,
If you but know the way,
A maid that's kissed will kiss again,
And pelt you with the hay,
The hay,
And pelt you with the hay.

At Shelley’s Grave

Beneath this marble, mute of praise,
Is hushed the heart of One
Who, whilst it beat, had eagle's gaze
To stare upon the sun.
Equal in flight
To any height,
He lies where they that crawl but come,
Sleeping most sound,-Cor Cordium.

No rippling notes announcing spring,
No bloom-evoking breeze,
No fleecy clouds that earnest bring
Of summer on the seas,
Avail to wake
The heart whose ache
Was to be tender overmuch
To Nature's every tone and touch.

The insolence of stranger drum,
Vexing the broad blue air,
To smite a nation's clamour dumb,
Or spur a rash despair,
Which once had wrung
That prophet tongue
To challenge force or cheer the slave,
Rolls unrebuked around his grave.

The cruel clarion's senseless bray,
The lamb's half-human bleat,
Patter of shower on sward or spray,
Or clang of mailèd feet,
Are weak alike
To stir or strike
The once swift voice that now is dumb
To war's reveil, cicala's hum.

Oh wake, dead heart! come back! indeed
Come back! Thy thunderous brow
And levin shafts the world did need
Never so much as now.
The chain, the rack,
The hopes kept back
By those whom serfs are forced to trust,
Might well reanimate thy dust.

Nay, Poet, rest thou quiet there,
'Neath sunshine, wind, and rain;
At least if thou canst scarce repair,
Thou dost not share our pain.
It is enough
That cold rebuff
And calumny of knave and dunce
Did vex thy tender spirit once.

Where was the marvel, though thy corse
Submitted to the pyre,
Thy heart of hearts should foil the force
Of the sea-wind-blown fire?
It was but just
That what was dust
Should own the cradle whence it came-
But when did flame e'er feed on flame?

Or rather say the sacred torch,
The while it did illume
Thy heart, did also so far scorch,
Was nought left to consume?
That ardent zeal
For human weal
Had searched and parched it o'er and o'er,
Till, lava like, 'twould burn no more.

I snatch the banner from thy grave,
I wave the torch on high;
'Spite smiling tyrant, crouching slave,
The Cause shall never die!
Sceptre and cowl
May smite or scowl,
Serfs hug the chains they half deserve-
Right cannot miss, howe'er it swerve!

Alas! you failed, who were so strong:
Shall I succeed, so weak?
Life grows still shorter, art more long;
You sang-I scarce can speak.
Promethean fire
Within your lyre
Made manly words with music mate,
Whilst I am scarce articulate.

He sang too early to be heard;
The world is drowsy still;
And only those whose sleep is stirred
By lines that streak the hill,
Or the first notes
Of matin throats,
Have heard his strain 'mid hush of night,
And known it harbinger of Light.

But when the Day shall come whose dawn
He early did forbode,
When men by Knowledge shall be drawn,
Not driven by the goad,
This spot apart,
Where sleeps his heart,
Deaf to all clamour, wrong, or rage,
Shall be their choicest pilgrimage.

The Passing Of The Primroses

Primroses, why do you pass away?

Nay, rather, why should we longer stay?
We are not needed, now stooping showers
Have sandalled the feet of May with flowers.

Surely, surely, 'tis time to go,
Now that the splendid bluebells blow,
Scattering a bridal peal, to hail
June blushing under her hawthorn veil.

We abode with you all the long winter through:
You may not have seen us, but we saw you,
Chafing your hands in the beaded haze,
And shivering home to your Yuletide blaze.

Why should we linger, when all things pass?
We have buried old Winter beneath the grass,
Seen the first larch break, heard the first lamb bleat,
Watched the first foal stoop to its mother's teat:

The crocus prick with its spears aglow
'Gainst the rallying flakes of the routed snow,
The isle-keeping titmouse wed and hatch,
And the swallow come home to its native thatch:

Fresh emeralds jewel the bare-brown mould,
And the blond sallow tassel herself with gold,
The hive of the broom brim with honeyed dew,
And Springtime swarm in the gorse anew.

When breastplated March his trumpets blew,
We laughed in his face, till he laughed too;
Then, drying our lids when the sleet was done,
Smiled back to the smile of the April sun.

We were first to hear, in the hazel moat,
The nut-brown bird with the poet's note,
That sings, ``Love is neither false nor fleet,''
Makes passion tender, and sorrow sweet.

We were stretched on the grass when the cuckoo's voice
Bade the old grow young, and the young rejoice;
The half-fledged singer who flouts and rails,
So forces the note when his first note fails:

Who scorns, understanding but in part,
The sweet solicitudes of the heart,
But might learn, from the all-year-cooing dove,
That joy hath a briefer life than love.

We would rather go ere the sweet Spring dies.
We have seen the violet droop its eyes,
The sorrel grow green where the celandine shone,
And the windflower fade ere you knew 'twas gone.

The campion comes to take our place,
And you will not miss us in brake or chase,
Now the fragile frond of the fern uncurls,
And the hawthorns necklace themselves with pearls.

When June's love crimsons the cheek of the rose,
And the meadow-swathes sweep in rhythmic rows,
And foxgloves gleam in the darkest glen,
You will not recall nor regret us then.

Leave us our heavenly lot, to cheer
Your lives in the midnight of the year;
And 'tis meet that our light should be withdrawn,
Being stars of winter, with summer's dawn.

For we do not sink into death's dank cave;
The earth is our cradle, and not our grave:
The tides and the stars sway it low and high,
And the sycamore bees hum lullaby.

But when winds roam lonely and dun clouds drift,
Let Winter, the white-haired nurse, but lift
The snowy coverlet softly, then
We will open our eyelids, and smile again.

How oft have you longed that your little ones would
Outgrow not the charm of babyhood,
Keep the soft round arms and the warm moist kiss,
And the magic of April sinlessness!

Then chide us not, now we look good-bye:
We are the children for whom you sigh.
We slip 'neath the sod before summer's prime,
And so keep young to the end of time.

The Passing Of Spring

Spring came out of the woodland chase,
With her violet eyes and her primrose face,
With an iris scarf for her sole apparel,
And a voice as blithe as a blackbird's carol.

As she flitted by garth and slipped through glade,
Her light limbs winnowed the wind, and made
The gold of the pollened palm to float
On her budding bosom and dimpled throat.

Then, brushing the nut-sweet gorse, she sped
Where the runnel lisps in its reedy bed,
O'er shepherded pasture and crested fallow,
And buskined her thigh with strips of sallow.

By the marigold marsh she paused to twist
The gold-green coils round her blue-veined wrist,
And out of the water-bed scooped the cresses,
And frolicked them round her braidless tresses.

She passed by the hazel dell, and lifted
The coverlet fern where the snow had drifted,
To see if it there still lingered on,
Then shook the catkins, and laughed, `'Tis gone!'

Through the crimson tips of the wintry brake
She peeped, and shouted, `Awake! Awake!'
And over the hill and down the hollow
She called, `I have come. So follow, follow!'

Then the windflower looked through the crumbling mould,
And the celandine opened its eyes of gold,
And the primrose sallied from chestnut shade,
And carried the common and stormed the glade.

In sheltered orchard and windy heath
The dauntless daffodils slipped their sheath,
And, glittering close in clump and cluster,
Dared norland tempests to blow and bluster.

Round crouching cottage and soaring castle
The larch unravelled its bright-green tassel;
In scrub and hedgerow the blackthorn flowered,
And laughed at the May for a lagging coward.

Then, tenderly ringing old Winter's knell,
The hyacinth swung its soundless bell,
And over and under and through and through
The copses there shimmered a sea of blue.

Like a sunny shadow of cloudlet fleeting,
Spring skimmed the pastures where lambs were bleating;
Along with them gambolled by bole and mound,
And raced and chased with them round and round.

To the cuckoo she called, `Why lag you now?
The woodpecker nests in the rotten bough;
The song-thrush pipes to his brooding mate,
And the thistlefinch pairs: you alone are late.'

Then over the seasonless sea he came,
And jocundly answered her, name for name,
And, falsely flitting from copse to cover,
Made musical mock of the jilted lover.

But with him there came the faithful bird
That lives with the stars, and is nightly heard
When the husht babe dimples the mother's breast,
And Spring said, sighing, `I love you best.

`For sweet is the sorrow that sobs in song
When Love is stronger than Death is strong,
And the vanished Past a more living thing
Than the fleeting voice and the fickle wing.'

Then the meadows grew golden, the lawns grew white,
And the poet-lark sang himself out of sight;
And English maidens and English lanes
Were serenaded by endless strains.

The hawthorn put on her bridal veil,
And milk splashed foaming in pan and pail;
The swain and his sweeting met and kissed,
And the air and the sky were amethyst.

`Now scythes are whetted and roses blow,'
Spring, carolling, said; `It is time to go.'
And though we called to her, `Stay! O stay!'
She smiled through a rainbow, and passed away.

Is Life Worth Living?

Is life worth living? Yes, so long
As Spring revives the year,
And hails us with the cuckoo's song,
To show that she is here;
So long as May of April takes,
In smiles and tears, farewell,
And windflowers dapple all the brakes,
And primroses the dell;
While children in the woodlands yet
Adorn their little laps
With ladysmock and violet,
And daisy-chain their caps;
While over orchard daffodils
Cloud-shadows float and fleet,
And ousel pipes and laverock trills,
And young lambs buck and bleat;
So long as that which bursts the bud
And swells and tunes the rill,
Makes springtime in the maiden's blood,
Life is worth living still.

Life not worth living! Come with me,
Now that, through vanishing veil,
Shimmers the dew on lawn and lea,
And milk foams in the pail;
Now that June's sweltering sunlight bathes
With sweat the striplings lithe,
As fall the long straight scented swathes
Over the crescent scythe;
Now that the throstle never stops
His self-sufficing strain,
And woodbine-trails festoon the copse,
And eglantine the lane;
Now rustic labour seems as sweet
As leisure, and blithe herds
Wend homeward with unweary feet,
Carolling like the birds;
Now all, except the lover's vow,
And nightingale, is still;
Here, in the twilight hour, allow,
Life is worth living still.

When Summer, lingering half-forlorn,
On Autumn loves to lean,
And fields of slowly yellowing corn
Are girt by woods still green;
When hazel-nuts wax brown and plump,
And apples rosy-red,
And the owlet hoots from hollow stump,
And the dormouse makes its bed;
When crammed are all the granary floors,
And the Hunter's moon is bright,
And life again is sweet indoors,
And logs again alight;
Aye, even when the houseless wind
Waileth through cleft and chink,
And in the twilight maids grow kind,
And jugs are filled and clink;
When children clasp their hands and pray
``Be done Thy heavenly will!''
Who doth not lift his voice, and say,
``Life is worth living still''?

Is life worth living? Yes, so long
As there is wrong to right,
Wail of the weak against the strong,
Or tyranny to fight;
Long as there lingers gloom to chase,
Or streaming tear to dry,
One kindred woe, one sorrowing face
That smiles as we draw nigh:
Long as at tale of anguish swells
The heart, and lids grow wet,
And at the sound of Christmas bells
We pardon and forget;
So long as Faith with Freedom reigns,
And loyal Hope survives,
And gracious Charity remains
To leaven lowly lives;
While there in one untrodden tract
For Intellect or Will,
And men are free to think and act
Life is worth living still.

Not care to live while English homes
Nestle in English trees,
And England's Trident-Sceptre roams
Her territorial seas!
Not live while English songs are sung
Wherever blows the wind,
And England's laws and England's tongue
Enfranchise half mankind!
So long as in Pacific main,
Or on Atlantic strand,
Our kin transmit the parent strain,
And love the Mother-Land;
So long as in this ocean Realm,
Victoria and her Line
Retain the heritage of the helm,
By loyalty divine;
So long as flashes English steel,
And English trumpets shrill,
He is dead already who doth not feel
Life is worth living still.

Latest, earliest of the year,
Primroses that still were here,
Snugly nestling round the boles
Of the cut-down chestnut poles,
When December's tottering tread
Rustled 'mong the deep leaves dead,
And with confident young faces
Peeped from out the sheltered places
When pale January lay
In its cradle day by day,
Dead or living, hard to say;
Now that mid-March blows and blusters,
Out you steal in tufts and clusters,
Making leafless lane and wood
Vernal with your hardihood.
Other lovely things are rare,
You are prodigal as fair.
First you come by ones and ones,
Lastly in battalions,
Skirmish along hedge and bank,
Turn old Winter's wavering flank,
Round his flying footsteps hover,
Seize on hollow, ridge, and cover,
Leave nor slope nor hill unharried,
Till, his snowy trenches carried,
O'er his sepulchre you laugh,
Winter's joyous epitaph.

This, too, be your glory great,
Primroses, you do not wait,
As the other flowers do,
For the Spring to smile on you,
But with coming are content,
Asking no encouragement.
Ere the hardy crocus cleaves
Sunny border 'neath the eaves,
Ere the thrush his song rehearse,
Sweeter than all poets' verse,
Ere the early bleating lambs
Cling like shadows to their dams,
Ere the blackthorn breaks to white,
Snowy-hooded anchorite;
Out from every hedge you look,
You are bright by every brook,
Wearing for your sole defence
Fearlessness of innocence.
While the daffodils still waver,
Ere the jonquil gets its savour,
While the linnets yet but pair,
You are fledged, and everywhere.
Nought can daunt you, nought distress,
Neither cold nor sunlessness.
You, when Lent sleet flies apace,
Look the tempest in the face;
As descend the flakes more slow,
From your eyelids shake the snow,
And when all the clouds have flown,
Meet the sun's smile with your own.
Nothing ever makes you less
Gracious to ungraciousness.
March may bluster up and down,
Pettish April sulk and frown;
Closer to their skirts you cling,
Coaxing Winter to be Spring.

Then when your sweet task is done,
And the wild-flowers, one by one,
Here, there, everywhere do blow,
Primroses, you haste to go,
Satisfied with what you bring,
Fading morning-stars of Spring.
You have brightened doubtful days,
You have sweetened long delays,
Fooling our enchanted reason
To miscalculate the season.
But when doubt and fear are fled,
When the kine leave wintry shed,
And 'mid grasses green and tall
Find their fodder, make their stall;
When the wintering swallow flies
Homeward back from southern skies,
To the dear old cottage thatch
Where it loves to build and hatch,
That its young may understand,
Nor forget, this English land;
When the cuckoo, mocking rover,
Laughs that April loves are over;
When the hawthorn, all ablow,
Mimics the defeated snow;
Then you give one last look round,
Stir the sleepers underground,
Call the campion to awake,
Tell the speedwell courage take,
Bid the eyebright have no fear,
Whisper in the bluebell's ear
Time has come for it to flood
With its blue waves all the wood,
Mind the stichwort of its pledge
To replace you in the hedge,
Bid the ladysmocks good-bye,
Close your bonnie lids and die;
And, without one look of blame,
Go as gently as you came.

By Avignon's dismantled walls,
Where cloudless mid-March sunshine falls,
Rhone, through broad belts of green,
Flecked with the light of almond groves,
Upon itself reverting, roves
Reluctant from the scene.

Yet from stern moat and storied tower,
From sprouting vine, from spreading flower,
My footsteps cannot choose
But turn aside, as though some friend
Were waiting for my voice, and wend
Unto thy vale, Vaucluse!

For here, by Sorgue's sequestered stream,
Did Petrarch fly from fame, and dream
Life's noonday light away;
Here build himself a studious home,
And, careless of the crowns of Rome,
To Laura lend his lay:

Teaching vain tongues that would reward
With noisy praise the shrinking bard,
Reminding thus the proud,
Love's sympathy, to him that sings,
Is more than smiles of courts and kings,
Or plaudits of the crowd.

For poor though love that doth not rouse
To deeds of glory dreaming brows,
What but a bitter sweet
Is loftiest fame, unless it lay
The soldier's sword, the poet's bay,
Low at some loved one's feet?

Where are his books? His garden, where?
I mount from flowery stair to stair,
While fancy fondly feigns
Here rose his learned lintel, here
He pondered, till the text grew clear,
Of long-forgotten strains.

On trackless slopes and brambled mounds
The laurel still so thick abounds,
That Nature's self, one deems,
Regretful of his vanished halls,
Still plants the tree whose name recalls
The lady of his dreams.

Aught more than this I cannot trace.
There is no footstep, form, nor face
To vivify the scene;
Save where, but culled to fling away,
Posies of withering wildflowers say,
``Here children's feet have been.''

Yet there's strange softness in the skies:
The violet opens limpid eyes,
The woodbine tendrils start;
Like childhood, winning without guile,
The primrose wears a constant smile,
And captive takes the heart.

All things remind of him, of her.
Stripped are the slopes of beech and fir,
Bare rise the crags above;
But hillside, valley, stream, and plain,
The freshness of his muse retain,
The fragrance of his love.

Why did he hither turn? Why choose
Thy solitary gorge, Vaucluse?
Thy Fountain makes reply,
That, like the muse, its waters well
From source none ne'er can sound, and swell
From springs that run not dry.

Or was it he might drink the air
That Laura breathed in surging prayer
Or duty's stifled sigh;
Feel on his cheek the self-same gale,
And listen to the same sweet wail
When summer nights are nigh?

May-be. Of Fame he deeply quaffed:
But thirsting for the sweeter draught
Of Love, alas for him!
Though draining glory to the dregs,
He was like one that vainly begs,
And scarcely sips the brim.

Is it then so, that glory ne'er
Its throne with happiness will share,
But, baffling half our aim,
Grief is the forfeit greatness pays,
Lone places grow the greenest bays,
And anguish suckles fame?

Let this to lowlier bards atone,
Whose unknown Laura is their own,
Possessing and possest;
Of whom if sooth they do not sing,
'Tis that near her they fold their wing,
To drop within her nest.

Adieu, Vaucluse! Swift Sorgue, farewell!
Thy winding waters seem to swell
Louder as I depart;
But evermore, where'er I go,
Thy stream will down my memory flow
And murmur through my heart.

Dedication To Lady Windsor

Where violets blue to olives gray
From furrows brown lift laughing eyes,
And silvery Mensola sings its way
Through terraced slopes, nor seeks to stay,
But onward and downward leaps and flies;

Where vines, just newly burgeoned, link
Their hands to join the dance of Spring,
Green lizards glisten from clest and chink,
And almond blossoms rosy pink
Cluster and perch, ere taking wing;

Where over strips of emerald wheat
Glimmer red peach and snowy pear,
And nightingales all day long repeat
Their love-song, not less glad than sweet,
They chant in sorrow and gloom elsewhere;

Where, as the mid-day belfries peal,
The peasant halts beside his steer,
And, while he muncheth his homely meal,
The swelling tulips blush to feel
The amorous currents of the year;

Where purple iris-banners scale
Defending wall and crumbling ledge,
And virgin windflowers, lithe and frail,
Now mantling red, now trembling pale,
Peep out from furrow and hide in hedge;

Where with loud song the labourer tells
His love to maiden loitering nigh,
And in the fig-tree's wakening cells
The honeyed sweetness swarms and swells,
And mountains prop the spacious sky;

Where April-daring roses blow
From sunny wall and sheltered bower,
And Arno flushes with melted snow,
And Florence glittering down below
Peoples the air with dome and tower;-

How sweet, when vernal thoughts once more
Uncoil them in one's veins, and urge
My feet to fly, my wings to soar,
And, hastening downward to the shore,
I spurn the sand and skim the surge,

And, never lingering by the way,
But hastening on past candid lakes,
Mysterious mountains grim and gray,
Past pine woods dark, and bounding spray
White as its far-off parent flakes;

And thence from Alp's unfurrowed snow,
By Apennine's relenting slope,
Zigzagging downward smooth and slow
To where, all flushed with the morning glow,
Valdarno keeps its pledge with hope;

And then,-the end, the longed-for end!
Climbing the hill I oft have clomb,
Down which Mugello's waters wend,
Again, dear hospitable friend,
To find You in your Tuscan home.

You, with your kind lord, standing there,
Crowning the morn with youth and grace,
And radiant smiles that reach me ere
Our hands can touch, and Florence fair
Seems fairer in your comely face.

Behind you, Phyllis, mother's pet,
Your gift unto the Future, stands,
Dimpling your skirt, uncertain yet
If she recalls or I forget,
With violets fresh in both her hands.

And next, his eyes and cheeks aflame,
See Other with his sword arrive;
Other, who thus recalls the name,
May he some day renew the fame
And feats, who boasts the blood, of Clive.

How sweet! how fair! From vale to crest,
Come wafts of song and waves of scent,
Whose sensuous beauty in the breast
Might haply breed a vague unrest,
Did not your presence bring content.

For you, not tender more than true,
Blend Northern worth with Southern grace;
And sure Boccaccio never drew
A being so designed as you
To be the Genius of the place.

But whether among Tuscan flowers
You dwell, fair English flower, or where
Saint Fagan lifts its feudal towers,
Or Hewell from ancestral bowers
Riseth afresh, and yet more fair;

Still may your portals, eve or morn,
Fly open when they hear his name,
Who, though indeed he would not scorn
Welcome from distant days unborn,
Prizes your friendship more than fame.

City acclaimed from far-off days
Fair, and baptized in field of flowers,
Once more I scan, with eager gaze,
Your soaring domes, your storied towers.

Nigh on eight lustres now have flown
Since first with trembling heart I came,
And, girdled by your mountain zone,
Found you yet fairer than your fame.

It was the season purple-sweet,
When figs are plucked, and grapes are pressed,
And all your folk with following feet
Bore a dead Poet to sacred rest.

You seemed to fling your gates ajar,
And gently lead me by the hand,
Saying, ``Behold! henceforth you are
No stranger in this Tuscan land.''

And though no love my love can wean
From Albion's crags and cradling sea,
You, Florence, since that hour, have been
More than a foster-nurse to me.

And seems that welcome half profaned,
If, in your lap lain oft and long,
I cherish to have something drained
Of Dante's soul and Petrarch's song?

But more than even Muse can give,
Is Love, which, songless though we be,
While the unloving jarring live,
Makes life one long sweet melody.

And you with love and friendship still
Have teemed, as teem your hills with wine,
And, through the seasons good or ill,
Have made their mellow vintage mine.

But most, while Fancy yet was young,
Yet timely cared no more to roam,
You lent your tender Tuscan tongue
To help me in my English home.

So now from soft Sicilian shore,
And Tiber's sterner tide, I bring
My Autumn sheaves, to share once more
The rapture of your rainbow Spring.

I, lingering in your palaced town,
Asudden, 'neath some beetling pile,
Catch sight of Dante's awful frown,
Or Vinci's enigmatic smile;

Then, following olden footsteps, stroll
To where, from May-day's mocking pyre,
Savonarola's tortured soul
Went up to Heaven in tongues of fire;

Or Buonarroti's godlike hand
Made marble block from Massa's steep
Dawn into Day at his command,
Or plunged it into Night and Sleep.

Onward I pass through radiant squares,
And widening ways whose foliage shames
Our leafless streets, to one that bears
The best-beloved of English names,

And climb the white-veiled slopes arrayed
In bridal bloom of peach and pear,
While, 'neath the olive's phantom shade,
Lupine and beanflower scent the air.

The wild-bees hum round golden bay,
The green frog sings on fig-tree bole,
And, see! down daisy-whitened way
Come the slow steers and swaying pole.

The fresh-pruned vine-stems, curving, bend
Over the peaceful wheaten spears,
And with the glittering sunshine blend
Their transitory April tears.

O'er wall and trellis trailed and wound,
Hang roses blushing, roses pale;
And, hark! what was that silvery sound?
The first note of the nightingale.

Curtained, I close my lids and dream
Of Beauty seen not but surmised,
And, lulled by scent and song, I seem
Immortally imparadised.

When from the deep sweet swoon I wake
And gaze past slopes of grape and grain,
Where Arno, like some lonely lake,
Silvers the far-off seaward plain,

I see celestial sunset fires
That lift us from this earthly leaven,
And darkly silent cypress spires
Pointing the way from hill to Heaven.

Then something more than mortal steals
Over the wavering twilight air,
And, messenger of nightfall, peals
From each crowned peak a call to prayer.

And now the last meek prayer is said,
And, in the hallowed hush, there is
Only a starry dome o'erhead,
Propped by columnar cypresses.

I sallied afield when the bud first swells,
And the sun first slanteth hotly,
And I came on a yokel in cap and bells,
And a suit of saffron motley.

He was squat on a bank where a self-taught stream,
Fingering flint and pebble,
Was playing in tune to the yaffel's scream,
And the shake of the throstle's treble.

``Now, who may you be?'' I asked, ``and where
Do you look for your meals and pillow?''
``My roof,'' he said, ``is the spacious air,
And my curtain the waving willow.

``My meal is a shive of the miller's loaf,
And hunger the grace that blesses:
'Tis banquet enough for a village oaf,
With a handful of fresh green cresses.

``A plague on your feasts where the dish goes round,
Though I know where the truffles burrow,
And the plover's eggs may, in fours, be found,
In the folds of the pleated furrow.

``And my name? O, I am an April Fool,
So yclept in the hamlet yonder;
For when old and young are at work or school,
I sit on a stile and ponder.

``I gather the yellow weasel-snout,
As I wander the woods at random,
Or I stoop stone-still, and tickle the trout,
And at times, for a lark, I land 'em.

``But I flick them back ere they gape and pant,
After gazing at gill and speckle.
For why should I keep what I do not want,
Who can fish without hook or heckle?

``Yes, I am an April Fool: confessed!
And my pate grows not wise for scratching;
But I know where the kingfisher drills his nest,
And the long-tailed tits are hatching.''

Then he leaped to his feet, and he shook his bells,
And they jangled all together,
As blithe as the chime that sinks and swells
For the joy of a nuptial tether.

And, as they chimed, in the covert near
Where ripens the juicy whortle,
The rustling whisper reached my ear
Of a loitering maiden's kirtle.

Whereat he laughed: ``I'm an April Fool,
But am jocund withal and jolly,
So long as I have this realm to rule,
And a lass to love my folly.

``Go and woo, where the deftly fair parade,
The smiles of a fine court lady;
But I will cuddle my rustic maid,
In the pheasant-drives husht and shady.

``Her cheek is as creamy as milk in June,
And the winds nor chap nor warp it;
We dance, with the blackbird to give the tune,
And with primroses for carpet.

``Her quick-flashing fingers knit the hose
For her little feet neat and nimble;
Her kiss is as sweet as a half-shut rose,
And her laugh like a silver cymbal.

``She never asks how my fortunes fare,
Nor wonders how full my purse is;
She sits on my knee, and she strokes my hair,
And I tell her my wildwood verses.

``She has not a gem she can call her own,
But I rest on a sheepfold hurdle,
And, out of the daffodils newly blown,
Entwine her a golden girdle.

``And soon I shall have for my nut-sweet girl,
When the May tree is adorning
Its weather-tanned skin with rows of pearl,
A new necklace, night and morning.

``When shortly we catch the cuckoo's call,
We shall clap our hands to hear him;
For let whom they may his gibes appal,
This April Fool don't fear him.''

Then a wind-cloud, hued like a ringdove's neck,
Made the rain run helter-skelter;
The keen drops pattered on bank and beck,
And I crouched in the ditch for shelter.

But he whistled his love, and he waved his cap,
And the bells all rang together;
``Just fancy!'' he cried, ``to care one rap
For the whims of wind or weather.

``Through all the seasons I keep my youth,
Which is more than you town-folk do, sir.
Now, which is the April Fool, in sooth?
Do you think it is I,-or you, sir?''

Then the rain ceased slashing on branch and pool,
And swift came the sunshine, after;
And the thrush and the yaffel screamed, ``April Fool!''
And the covert rang with laughter.

A Captive Throstle

Poor little mite with mottled breast,
Half-fledged, and fallen from the nest,
For whom this world hath just begun,
Who want to fly, yet scarce can run;
Why open wide your yellow beak?
Is it for hunger, or to speak-
To tell me that you fain would be
Loosed from my hand to liberty?

Well, you yourself decide your fate,
But be not too precipitate.
Which will you have? If you agree
To quit the lanes, and lodge with me,
I promise you a bed more soft,
Even than that where you aloft
First opened wondering eyes, and found
A world of green leaves all around.
When you awake, you straight shall see
A fresh turf, green and velvety,
Well of clear water, sifted seed,
All things, in short, that bird can need;
And gentle beings, far more fair
Than build on bough, or skim through air,
When all without is wet and bleak,
Laying against your cage their cheek,
To make you pipe shall coax and coo,
And bud their pretty lips at you.
And when the clammy winter rain
Drips from the roof and clouds the pane,
When windows creak and chimneys roar,
And beggars wail outside the door,
And stretch out fingers lank and thin,
You shall be safely housed within,
And through the wood-fire's flickering glow
Watch drifting leaves or driving snow,
Till Marian pulls the shutters up,
And you go sleep, and I go sup.

But now suppose I let you go,
To rains that beat, to winds that blow,
To heedless chance and prowling foe?
Mayhap this very day, alas!
You will be drowned in tangled grass:
Or, that escaped, some slinking stoat
May seize and suck your speckled throat;
Or hawk slow wheeling in the sky
Your fluttering feeble wings descry,
And, straightway downward flashing thence,
Relish and rend your innocence.
Should you survive, and glad and strong
Make autumn spring-like with your song,
You will be lured, the very first,
Where netted berries bulge and burst,
And, by their guardian caught alive,
You may, before I can arrive
To bid him not be so unsparing,
Have paid the forfeit of your daring.
Time too will come, there will not be
Berry on bush, or pod on tree,
Stripped be the hawthorn, bare the holly,
And all the boughs drip melancholy;
And you will have to scrape for food
Amid a frosty solitude.

Which shall it be? Now quick decide!
Safety confined, or peril wide?

Then did the little bird reply:
``'Tis true, as yet I scarce can fly;
But oh! it is such joy to try!
Just as you came, I was beginning
To win my wings, exult in winning;
To feel the promptings of the pinion,
The dawn of a divine dominion
Over the empty air, and over
Fields of young wheat and breadths of clover:
Pledge of a power to scale, some day,
My native elm-tree's topmost spray,
And mid the leaves and branches warm
Sing far beyond the reach of harm.
And shall I barter gift like this
For doled-out joy and measured bliss?
For a trim couch and dainty fare
Forfeit the freedom of the air?
Shall I exchange for punctual food
April's sweet loves and summer's brood;
The dewy nest 'neath twinkling stars
For crushing roof and cramping bars?
No! Come what chance or foe that may,
Menace of death this very day,
The weasel's clutch, the falcon's swoop-
What if these kill? they do not coop.
Autumn's worst ambush, winter's rage,
Are sweeter than the safest cage.''

Off, little mite! I let you fly,
And do as I would be done by.

Nature within your heart hath sown
A wisdom wiser than my own,
And from your choice I learn to prize
The birth-right of unbounded skies,
Delightful danger of being free,
Sweet sense of insecurity;
The privilege to risk one's all
On being nor captive, caged, nor thrall,
The wish to range, the wing to soar
Past space behind, through space before,
The ecstasy of unknown flight,
The doubt, the danger, the delight,
To range and roam, unchained, unvext,
Nor know what worlds will open next;
And, since Death waits both caged and free
To die, at least, of liberty.

The Wind Speaks

``In the depth of Night, on the heights of Day,
Would you know where I rest or roam?
In vain will you search, for I nowhere stay,
And the Universe is my home.

``When you think to descry on the craggy steep
My skirts as I mount and flee
From the wrecks I have wrought, I am sound asleep
In the cradles rocked by the sea.

``There is never an eye that hath seen my helm,
Though I traverse the ocean's face;
There is never a foot that hath trod my Realm,
Or can guide to my dwelling-place.

``Then how will you challenge my Will and me,
Or, how what I do, arraign?
Bewail as you may, I alone am free,
You can neither imprison nor chain.

``Your dungeons clang on the blood-red hand,
And fetter the monster's claw.
If I merge 'neath the wave, if I level on land,
It is that my will is law.

``You have cleared the main of the corsair's keel,
And the forest of outlaws' tread;
Your hounds follow swift on the felon's heel,
And the trail of the ravisher fled.

``But when I harry the woods, or scour
The furrows of foam for prey,
The blushing bloom of the Spring deflower,
Or outrage the buds of May,

``Where, where are they that can hunt me down,
Or catch up my tacking sail,
Can bridle my lust with scourge or frown,
As I speed me away on the gale?

``I heed no menace, I hark no prayer
And, if I desire, I sate:
'Tis but when I want not that I spare,
But neither from love nor hate.

``Let the feeble falter in their intent,
Or, slaking it, feel remorse.
Though I never refrain, I never repent
I am nothing but Will and Force.

``The flocks of the wandering waves I hold
In the hollow of my hand,
And I let them loose, like a huddled fold,
And with them I flood the land;

``Till they swirl round villages, hamlets, thorpes,
As the cottagers flee for life:
Then I fling the fisherman's flaccid corpse
At the feet of the fisherman's wife.

``I blow from the shore as the surges swell,
And the drenched barque strains for port,
But heareth in vain the lighthouse bell
And the guns of the hailing fort.

``Where speedeth the horseman o'er sand or veldt
That boasteth a seat like mine?
I ride without stirrup, or bit, or belt,
On the back of the bounding brine.

``And it rears and plunges, it chafes and foams,
But I am its master still,
And its mettle I tame till it halts or roams
At whatever pace I will.

``I shatter the stubborn oak, and blanch
The leaves of the poplar tree,
And sweep all the chords of bough and branch,
Till I make them sound like the sea.

``O, where is there music like to mine,
When I muster my breath and roll
Through the organ pipes of the mountain pine,
Till they fill and affright the soul?

``Then smoothly and softly, 'twixt shore and shore,
I float on the dreaming mere;
And motionless then you suspend your oar,
And listen, but cannot hear.

``For I have crept to the water's edge,
And deep under reed-mace crest
Am faintly fanning the seeded sedge,
Or rocking the cygnet's nest.

``If I strip the maidenly birches bare
Of their dainty transparent dress,
It is that their limbs may look more fair
In their innocent nakedness.

``I weave from the leaves of the beech-capped steep
A coverlet gold and red,
And under its quiet warmth I creep,
And sleep till the snows are fled.

``Then I wake, and around the maiden's feet
I flutter each fringe and fold,
And playfully ripple the vestal pleat
That hints of her perfect mould.

``I linger round dimpled throat and mouth,
Till her warm lips fall apart,
And with the breath of the scented south
Keep thawing her chaste cold heart.

``Then she harks to the note of the nightingale
And the coo of the mated dove,
And murmurs the words of the poet's tale,
Till the whole of her life is Love.

``I unlimber the thunder, I aim the bolt,
Till the forest ranks waver and quail,
Then hurl down the hill and over the holt
My squadrons of glittering hail.

``I soar where no skylark mounts and sings,
But the heavenly anthems swell,
And fan with the force of my demon wings
The furnace of nethermost Hell.

``Like the Soul of Man, like God's Word and Will,
Whence I come and whither I go,
And where I abide when my voice is still,
You know not, and never shall know.''