My April Lady
When down the stair at morning
The sunbeams round her float,
Sweet rivulets of laughter
Are bubbling in her throat;
The gladness of her greeting
Is gold without alloy;
And in the morning sunlight
I think her name is Joy.
When in the evening twilight
The quiet book-room lies,
We read the sad old ballads,
While from her hidden eyes
The tears are falling, falling,
That give her heart relief;
And in the evening twilight,
I think her name is Grief.
My little April lady,
Of sunshine and of showers,
She weaves the old spring magic,
And breaks my heart in flowers!
But when her moods are ended,
She nestles like a dove;
Then, by the pain and rapture,
I know her name is Love.
Hymn Of Joy
To the music of Beethoven's ninth symphony
Joyful, joyful, we adore Thee,
God of glory, Lord of love;
Hearts unfold like flowers before Thee,
Praising Thee their sun above.
Melt the clouds of sin and sadness;
Drive the dark of doubt away;
Giver of immortal gladness,
Fill us with the light of day!
All Thy works with joy surround Thee,
Earth and heaven reflect Thy rays,
Stars and angels sing around Thee,
Centre of unbroken praise:
Field and forest, vale and mountain,
Blooming meadow, flashing sea,
Chanting bird and flowing fountain,
Call us to rejoice in Thee.
Thou art giving and forgiving,
Ever blessing, ever blest,
Well-spring of the joy of living,
Ocean-depth of happy rest!
Thou our Father, Christ our Brother, --
All who live in love are Thine:
Teach us how to love each other,
Lift us to the Joy Divine.
Mortals join the mighty chorus,
Which the morning stars began;
Father-love is reigning o'er us,
Brother-love binds man to man.
Ever singing march we onward,
Victors in the midst of strife;
Joyful music lifts us sunward
In the triumph song of life.
The Oxford Thrushes
I never thought again to hear
The Oxford thrushes singing clear,
Amid the February rain,
Their sweet, indomitable strain.
A wintry vapor lightly spreads
Among the trees, and round the beds
Where daffodil and jonquil sleep,
Only the snowdrop wakes to weep.
It is not springtime yet. Alas,
What dark, tempestuous days must pass,
Till England's trial by battle cease,
And summer comes again with peace.
The lofty halls, the tranquil towers,
Where Learning in untroubled hours
Held her high court, serene in fame,
Are lovely still, yet not the same.
The novices in fluttering gown
No longer fill the ancient town,
But fighting men in khaki drest--
And in the Schools the wounded rest.
Ah, far away, 'neath stranger skies
Full many a son of Oxford lies,
And whispers from his warrior grave,
"I died to keep the faith you gave."
The mother mourns, but does not fail,
Her courage and her love prevail
O'er sorrow, and her spirit hears
The promise of triumphant years.
Then sing, ye thrushes, in the rain
Your sweet indomitable strain.
Ye bring a word from God on high
And voices in our hearts reply.
Hide And Seek
All the trees are sleeping, all the winds are still,
All the flocks of fleecy clouds have wandered past the hill;
Through the noonday silence, down the woods of June,
Hark, a little hunter's voice comes running with a tune.
"Hide and seek!
"When I speak,
"You must answer me:
"Coo-ee, coo-ee, coo-ee!"
Now I hear his footsteps, rustling through the grass:
Hidden in my leafy nook, shall I let him pass?
Just a low, soft whistle,--quick the hunter turns,
Leaps upon me laughing, rolls me in the ferns.
"Hold him fast,
"Caught at last!
"Now you're it, you see.
"Hide your eye,
"Till I cry,
"Coo-ee, coo-ee, coo-ee!"
Long ago he left me, long and long ago:
Now I wander through the world and seek him high and low;
Hidden safe and happy, in some pleasant place,--
Ah, if I could hear his voice, I soon should find his face.
Many a day,
Where can Barney be?
Don't you hear?
Coo-ee, coo-ee, coo-ee!
Birds that in the spring-time thrilled his heart with joy,
Flowers he loved to pick for me, mind me of my boy.
Surely he is waiting till my steps come nigh;
Love may hide itself awhile, but love can never die.
Heart, be glad,
The little lad
Will call some day to thee:
"Heaven is here,
"Coo-ee, coo-ee, coo-ee!"
Spring In The South
Now in the oak the sap of life is welling,
Tho' to the bough the rusty leafage clings;
Now on the elm the misty buds are swelling,
See how the pine-wood grows alive with wings;
Blue-jays fluttering, yodeling and crying,
Meadow-larks sailing low above the faded grass,
Red-birds whistling clear, silent robins flying,--
Who has waked the birds up? What has come to pass?
Last year's cotton-plants, desolately bowing,
Tremble in the March-wind, ragged and forlorn;
Red are the hill-sides of the early ploughing,
Gray are the lowlands, waiting for the corn.
Earth seems asleep still, but she's only feigning;
Deep in her bosom thrills a sweet unrest.
Look where the jasmine lavishly is raining
Jove's golden shower into Danae's breast!
Now on the plum the snowy bloom is sifted,
Now on the peach the glory of the rose,
Over the hills a tender haze is drifted,
Full to the brim the yellow river flows.
Dark cypress boughs with vivid jewels glisten,
Greener than emeralds shining in the sun.
Who has wrought the magic? Listen, sweetheart, listen!
The mocking-bird is singing Spring has begun.
Hark, in his song no tremor of misgiving!
All of his heart he pours into his lay,--
"Love, love, love, and pure delight of living:
Winter is forgotten: here's a happy day!"
Fair in your face I read the flowery presage,
Snowy on your brow and rosy on your mouth:
Sweet in your voice I hear the season's message,--
Love, love, love, and Spring in the South!
The Ruby-Crowned Kinglet
Where's your kingdom, little king?
Where the land you call your own,
Where your palace and your throne?
Fluttering lightly on the wing
Through the blossom-world of May,
Whither lies your royal way,
Far to northward lies a land
Where the trees together stand
Closely as the blades of wheat
When the summer is complete.
Rolling like an ocean wide
Over vale and mountainside,
Balsam, hemlock, spruce and pine,-
All those mighty trees are mine.
There's a river flowing free,-
All its waves belong to me.
There's a lake so clear and bright
Stars shine out of it all night;
Rowan-berries round it spread
Like a belt of coral red.
Never royal garden planned
Fair as my Canadian land!
There I build my summer nest,
There I reign and there I rest,
While from dawn to dark I sing,
Happy kingdom! Lucky king!
Back again, my little king!
Is your happy kingdom lost
To the rebel knave, Jack Frost?
Have you felt the snow-flakes sting?
Houseless, homeless in October,
Whither now? Your plight is sober,
Far to southward lie the regions
Where my loyal flower-legions
Hold possession of the year,
Filling every month with cheer.
Christmas wakes the winter rose;
New Year daffodils unclose;
Yellow jasmine through the wood
Flows in February flood,
Dropping from the tallest trees
Golden streams that never freeze.
Thither now I take my flight
Down the pathway of the night,
Till I see the southern moon
Glisten on the broad lagoon,
Where the cypress' dusky green,
And the dark magnolia's sheen,
Weave a shelter round my home.
There the snow-storms never come;
There the bannered mosses gray
Like a curtain gently sway,
Hanging low on every side
Round the covert inhere I bide,
Till the March azalea glows,
Royal red and heavenly rose,
Through the Carolina glade
Where my winter home is made.
There I hold my southern court,
Full of merriment and sport:
There I take my ease and sing,
Happy kingdom! Lucky king!
Little boaster, vagrant king,
Neither north nor south is yours,
You've no kingdom that endures!
Wandering every fall and spring,
With your ruby crown so slender,
Are you only a Pretender,
Never king by right divine
Ruled a richer realm than mine!
What are lands and golden crowns,
Armies, fortresses and towns,
Jewels, sceptres, robes and rings,-
What are these to song and wings?
Everywhere that I can fly,
There I own the earth and sky;
Everywhere that I can sing,
There I'm happy as a king.
Ah, who will tell me, in these leaden days,
Why the sweet Spring delays,
And where she hides, -- the dear desire
Of every heart that longs
For bloom, and fragrance, and the ruby fire
Of maple-buds along the misty hills,
And that immortal call which fills
The waiting wood with songs?
The snow-drops came so long ago,
It seemed that Spring was near!
But then returned the snow
With biting winds, and all the earth grew sere,
And sullen clouds drooped low
To veil the sadness of a hope deferred:
Then rain, rain, rain, incessant rain
Beat on the window-pane,
Through which I watched the solitary bird
That braved the tempest, buffeted and tossed,
With rumpled feathers, down the wind again.
Oh, were the seeds all lost
When winter laid the wild flowers in their tomb?
I searched their haunts in vain
For blue hepaticas, and trilliums white,
And trailing arbutus, the Spring's delight,
Starring the withered leaves with rosy bloom.
The woods were bare: and every night the frost
To all my longings spoke a silent nay,
And told me Spring was far and far away.
Even the robins were too cold to sing,
Except a broken and discouraged note, --
Only the tuneful sparrow, on whose throat
Music has put her triple finger-print,
Lifted his head and sang my heart a hint, --
"Wait, wait, wait! oh, wait a while for Spring!"
But now, Carina, what divine amends
For all delay! What sweetness treasured up,
What wine of joy that blends
A hundred flavours in a single cup,
Is poured into this perfect day!
For look, sweet heart, here are the early flowers,
That lingered on their way,
Thronging in haste to kiss the feet of May,
And mingled with the bloom of later hours, --
Anemonies and cinque-foils, violets blue
And white, and iris richly gleaming through
The grasses of the meadow, and a blaze
Of butter-cups and daisies in the field,
Filling the air with praise,
As if a silver chime of bells had pealed!
The frozen songs within the breast
Of silent birds that hid in leafless woods,
Melt into rippling floods
Of gladness unrepressed.
Now oriole and blue-bird, thrush and lark,
Warbler and wren and vireo,
Confuse their music; for the living spark
Of Love has touched the fuel of desire,
And every heart leaps up in singing fire.
It seems as if the land
Were breathing deep beneath the sun's caress,
Trembling with tenderness,
While all the woods expand,
In shimmering clouds of rose and gold and green,
To veil the joys too sacred to be seen.
Come, put your hand in mine,
True love, long sought and found at last,
And lead me deep into the Spring divine
That makes amends for all the wintry past.
For all the flowers and songs I feared to miss
Arrive with you;
And in the lingering pressure of your kiss
My dreams come true;
And in the promise of your generous eyes
I read the mystic sign
Of joy more perfect made
Because so long delayed,
And bliss enhanced by rapture of surprise.
Ah, think not early love alone is strong;
He loveth best whose heart has learned to wait:
Dear messenger of Spring that tarried long,
You're doubly dear because you come so late.
God Of The Open Air
Thou who hast made thy dwelling fair
With flowers beneath, above with starry lights,
And set thine altars everywhere,--
On mountain heights,
In woodlands dim with many a dream,
In valleys bright with springs,
And on the curving capes of every stream:
Thou who hast taken to thyself the wings
Of morning, to abide
Upon the secret places of the sea,
And on far islands, where the tide
Visits the beauty of untrodden shores,
Waiting for worshippers to come to thee
In thy great out-of-doors!
To thee I turn, to thee I make my prayer,
God of the open air.
Seeking for thee, the heart of man
Lonely and longing ran,
In that first, solitary hour,
When the mysterious power
To know and love the wonder of the morn
Was breathed within him, and his soul was born;
And thou didst meet thy child,
Not in some hidden shrine,
But in the freedom of the garden wild,
And take his hand in thine,--
There all day long in Paradise he walked,
And in the cool of evening with thee talked.
Lost, long ago, that garden bright and pure,
Lost, that calm day too perfect to endure,
And lost the childlike love that worshipped and was sure!
For men have dulled their eyes with sin,
And dimmed the light of heaven with doubt,
And built their temple walls to shut thee in,
And framed their iron creeds to shut thee out.
But not for thee the closing of the door,
O Spirit unconfined!
Thy ways are free
As is the wandering wind,
And thou hast wooed thy children, to restore
Their fellowship with thee,
In peace of soul and simpleness of mind.
Joyful the heart that, when the flood rolled by,
Leaped up to see the rainbow in the sky;
And glad the pilgrim, in the lonely night,
For whom the hills of Haran, tier on tier,
Built up a secret stairway to the height
Where stars like angel eyes were shining clear.
From mountain-peaks, in many a land and age,
Disciples of the Persian seer
Have hailed the rising sun and worshipped thee;
And wayworn followers of the Indian sage
Have found the peace of God beneath a spreading tree.
But One, but One,--ah, child most dear,
And perfect image of the Love Unseen,--
Walked every day in pastures green,
And all his life the quiet waters by,
Reading their beauty with a tranquil eye.
To him the desert was a place prepared
For weary hearts to rest;
The hillside was a temple blest;
The grassy vale a banquet-room
Where he could feed and comfort many a guest.
With him the lily shared
The vital joy that breathes itself in bloom;
And every bird that sang beside the nest
Told of the love that broods o'er every living thing.
He watched the shepherd bring
His flock at sundown to the welcome fold,
The fisherman at daybreak fling
His net across the waters gray and cold,
And all day long the patient reaper swing
His curving sickle through the harvest-gold.
So through the world the foot-path way he trod,
Drawing the air of heaven in every breath;
And in the evening sacrifice of death
Beneath the open sky he gave his soul to God.
Him will I trust, and for my Master take;
Him will I follow; and for his dear sake,
God of the open air,
To thee I make my prayer.
>From the prison of anxious thought that greed has builded,
>From the fetters that envy has wrought and pride has gilded,
>From the noise of the crowded ways and the fierce confusion,
>From the folly that wastes its days in a world of illusion,
(Ah, but the life is lost that frets and languishes there!)
I would escape and be free in the joy of the open air.
By the breadth of the blue that shines in silence o'er me,
By the length of the mountain-lines that stretch before me,
By the height of the cloud that sails, with rest in motion,
Over the plains and the vales to the measureless ocean,
(Oh, how the sight of the things that are great enlarges the eyes!)
Lead me out of the narrow life, to the peace of the hills
and the skies.
While the tremulous leafy haze on the woodland is spreading,
And the bloom on the meadow betrays where May has been treading;
While the birds on the branches above, and the brooks flowing under,
Are singing together of love in a world full of wonder,
(Lo, in the marvel of Springtime, dreams are changed into truth!)
Quicken my heart, and restore the beautiful hopes of youth.
By the faith that the flowers show when they bloom unbidden,
By the calm of the river's flow to a goal that is hidden,
By the trust of the tree that clings to its deep foundation,
By the courage of wild birds' wings on the long migration,
(Wonderful secret of peace that abides in Nature's breast!)
Teach me how to confide, and live my life, and rest.
For the comforting warmth of the sun that my body embraces,
For the cool of the waters that run through the shadowy places,
For the balm of the breezes that brush my face with their fingers,
For the vesper-hymn of the thrush when the twilight lingers,
For the long breath, the deep breath, the breath
of a heart without care,--
I will give thanks and adore thee, God of the open air!
These are the gifts I ask
Of thee, Spirit serene:
Strength for the daily task,
Courage to face the road,
Good cheer to help me bear the traveller's load,
And, for the hours of rest that come between,
An inward joy in all things heard and seen.
These are the sins I fain
Would have thee take away:
Malice, and cold disdain,
Hot anger, sullen hate,
Scorn of the lowly, envy of the great,
And discontent that casts a shadow gray
On all the brightness of the common day.
These are the things I prize
And hold of dearest worth:
Light of the sapphire skies,
Peace of the silent hills,
Shelter of forests, comfort of the grass,
Music of birds, murmur of little rills,
Shadow of clouds that swiftly pass,
And, after showers,
The smell of flowers
And of the good brown earth,--
And best of all, along the way, friendship and mirth.
So let me keep
These treasures of the humble heart
In true possession, owning them by love;
And when at last I can no longer move
Among them freely, but must part
From the green fields and from the waters clear,
Let me not creep
Into some darkened room and hide
From all that makes the world so bright and dear;
But throw the windows wide
To welcome in the light;
And while I clasp a well-beloved hand,
Let me once more have sight
Of the deep sky and the far-smiling land,--
Then gently fall on sleep,
And breathe my body back to Nature's care,
My spirit out to thee, God of the open air.
The White Bees
Long ago Apollo called to Aristæus,
youngest of the shepherds,
Saying, "I will make you keeper of my bees."
Golden were the hives, and golden was the honey;
golden, too, the music,
Where the honey-makers hummed among the trees.
Happy Aristæus loitered in the garden, wandered
in the orchard,
Careless and contented, indolent and free;
Lightly took his labour, lightly took his pleasure,
till the fated moment
When across his pathway came Eurydice.
Then her eyes enkindled burning love within him;
drove him wild with longing,
For the perfect sweetness of her flower-like face;
Eagerly he followed, while she fled before him,
over mead and mountain,
On through field and forest, in a breathless race.
But the nymph, in flying, trod upon a serpent;
like a dream she vanished;
Pluto's chariot bore her down among the dead;
Lonely Aristæus, sadly home returning, found his
All the hives deserted, all the music fled.
Mournfully bewailing, -- "ah, my honey-makers,
where have you departed?" --
Far and wide he sought them, over sea and shore;
Foolish is the tale that says he ever found them,
brought them home in triumph,
Joys that once escape us fly for evermore.
Yet I dream that somewhere, clad in downy
whiteness, dwell the honey-makers,
In aerial gardens that no mortal sees:
And at times returning, lo, they flutter round us,
gathering mystic harvest,
So I weave the legend of the long-lost bees.
THE SWARMING OF THE BEES
WHO can tell the hiding of the white bees' nest?
Who can trace the guiding of their swift home flight?
Far would be his riding on a life-long quest:
Surely ere it ended would his beard grow white.
Never in the coming of the rose-red Spring,
Never in the passing of the wine-red Fall,
May you hear the humming of the white bee's wing
Murmur o'er the meadow, ere the night bells call.
Wait till winter hardens in the cold grey sky,
Wait till leaves are fallen and the brooks all freeze,
Then above the gardens where the dead flowers lie,
Swarm the merry millions of the wild white bees.
Out of the high-built airy hive,
Deep in the clouds that veil the sun,
Look how the first of the swarm arrive;
Timidly venturing, one by one,
Down through the tranquil air,
Wavering here and there,
Large, and lazy in flight, --
Caught by a lift of the breeze,
Tangled among the naked trees, --
Dropping then, without a sound,
To their rest on the ground.
Thus the swarming is begun.
Count the leaders, every one
Perfect as a perfect star
Till the slow descent is done.
Look beyond them, see how far
Down the vistas dim and grey,
Multitudes are on the way.
Now a sudden brightness
Dawns within the sombre day,
Over fields of whiteness;
And the sky is swiftly alive
With the flutter and the flight
Of the shimmering bees, that pour
From the hidden door of the hive
Till you can count no more.
Now on the branches of hemlock and pine
Thickly they settle and cluster and swing,
Bending them low; and the trellised vine
And the dark elm-boughs are traced with a line
Of beauty wherever the white bees cling.
Now they are hiding the wrecks of the flowers,
Softly, softly, covering all,
Over the grave of the summer hours
Spreading a silver pall.
Now they are building the broad roof ledge,
Into a cornice smooth and fair,
Moulding the terrace, from edge to edge,
Into the sweep of a marble stair.
Wonderful workers, swift and dumb,
Numberless myriads, still they come,
Thronging ever faster, faster, faster!
Where is their queen? Who is their master?
The gardens are faded, the fields are frore,
How will they fare in a world so bleak?
Where is the hidden honey they seek?
What is the sweetness they toil to store
In the desolate day, where no blossoms gleam?
Forgetfulness and a dream!
But now the fretful wind awakes;
I hear him girding at the trees;
He strikes the bending boughs, and shakes
The quiet clusters of the bees
To powdery drift;
He tosses them away,
He drives them like spray;
He makes them veer and shift
Around his blustering path.
In clouds blindly whirling,
In rings madly swirling,
Full of crazy wrath,
So furious and fast they fly
They blur the earth and blot the sky
In wild, white mirk.
They fill the air with frozen wings
And tiny, angry, icy stings;
They blind the eyes, and choke the breath,
They dance a maddening dance of death
Around their work,
Sweeping the cover from the hill,
Heaping the hollows deeper still,
Effacing every line and mark,
And swarming, storming in the dark
Through the long night;
Until, at dawn, the wind lies down,
Weary of fight.
The last torn cloud, with trailing gown,
Passes the open gates of light;
And the white bees are lost in flight.
Look how the landscape glitters wide and still,
Bright with a pure surprise!
The day begins with joy, and all past ill,
Buried in white oblivion, lies
Beneath the snowdrifts under crystal skies.
New hope, new love, new life, new cheer,
Flow in the sunrise beam,--
The gladness of Apollo when he sees,
Upon the bosom of the wintry year,
The honey-harvest of his wild white bees,
Forgetfulness and a dream!
LISTEN, my beloved, while the silver morning,
like a tranquil vision,
Fills the world around us and our hearts with peace;
Quiet is the close of Aristæus' legend, happy is
the ending --
Listen while I tell you how he found release.
Many months he wandered far away in sadness,
Only of the vanished joys he could not find;
Till the great Apollo, pitying his shepherd, loosed
him from the burden
Of a dark, reluctant, backward-looking mind.
Then he saw around him all the changeful beauty
of the changing seasons,
In the world-wide regions where his journey lay;
Birds that sang to cheer him, flowers that bloomed
beside him, stars that shone to guide him, --
Traveller's joy was plenty all along the way!
Everywhere he journeyed strangers made him
welcome, listened while he taught them
Secret lore of field and forest he had learned:
How to train the vines and make the olives fruit-
ful; how to guard the sheepfolds;
How to stay the fever when the dog-star burned.
Friendliness and blessing followed in his foot-
steps; richer were the harvests,
Happier the dwellings, wheresoe'er he came;
Little children loved him, and he left behind him,
in the hour of parting,
Memories of kindness and a god-like name.
So he travelled onward, desolate no longer,
patient in his seeking,
Reaping all the wayside comfort of his quest;
Till at last in Thracia, high upon Mount Hæmus,
far from human dwelling,
Weary Aristæus laid him down to rest.
Then the honey-makers, clad in downy whiteness,
fluttered soft around him,
Wrapt him in a dreamful slumber pure and deep.
This is life, beloved: first a sheltered garden,
then a troubled journey,
Joy and pain of seeking, -- and at last we sleep!