A May-Day Madrigal
The sun shines fair on Tweedside, the river flowing bright,
Your heart is full of pleasure, your eyes are full of light,
Your cheeks are like the morning, your pearls are like the dew,
Or morning and her dew-drops are like your pearls and you.
Because you are a princess, a princess of the land,
You will not turn your lightsome eyes a moment where I stand,
A poor unnoticed poet, a-making of his rhymes;
But I have found a mistress, more fair a thousand times.
`Tis May, the elfish maiden, the daughter of the Spring,
Upon whose birthday morning the birds delight to sing.
They would not sing one note for you, if you should so command,
Although you are a princess, a princess of the land.
From Jean Pierre Claris Florian
I love to see the swallows come
At my window twittering,
Bringing from their southern home
News of the approaching spring.
'Last year's nest,' they softly say,
'Last year's love again shall see;
Only faithful lovers may
Tell you of the coming glee.'
When the first fell touch of frost
Strips the wood of faded leaves,
Calling all their wingèd host,
The swallows meet above the eaves
'Come away, away,' they cry,
'Winter's snow is hastening;
True hearts winter comes not nigh,
They are ever in the spring.'
If by some unhappy fate,
Victim of a cruel mind,
One is parted from her mate
And within a cage confined,
Swiftly will the swallow die,
Pining for her lover's bower,
And her lover watching nigh
Dies beside her in an hour.
Hymn Of Hippolytus To Artemis
Artemis! thou fairest
Of the maids that be
In divine Olympus,
Hail! Hail to thee!
To thee I bring this woven weed
Culled for thee from a virgin mead,
Where neither shepherd claims his flocks to feed
Nor ever yet the mower's scythe hath come.
There in the Spring the wild bee hath his home,
Lightly passing to and fro
Where the virgin flowers grow;
And there the watchful Purity doth go
Moistening with dew-drops all the ground below,
Drawn from a river untaintedly flowing,
They who have gained by a kind fate's bestowing
Pure hearts, untaught by philosophy's care,
May gather the flowers in the mead that are blowing,
But the tainted in spirit may never be there.
Now, O Divinest, eternally fair,
Take thou this garland to gather thy hair,
Brought by a hand that is pure as the air.
For I alone of all the sons of men
Hear thy pure accents, answering thee again.
And may I reach the goal of life as I began the race,
Blest by the music of thy voice, though darkness ever veil thy face!
The End Of April
This is the time when larks are singing loud
And higher still ascending and more high,
This is the time when many a fleecy cloud
Runs lamb-like on the pastures of the sky,
This is the time when most I love to lie
Stretched on the links, now listening to the sea,
Now looking at the train that dawdles by;
But James is going in for his degree.
James is my brother. He has twice been ploughed,
Yet he intends to have another shy,
Hoping to pass (as he says) in a crowd.
Sanguine is James, but not so sanguine I.
If you demand my reason, I reply:
Because he reads no Greek without a key
And spells Thucydides c-i-d-y;
Yet James is going in for his degree.
No doubt, if the authorities allowed
The taking in of Bohns, he might defy
The stiffest paper that has ever cowed
A timid candidate and made him fly.
Without such aids, he all as well may try
To cultivate the people of Dundee,
Or lead the camel through the needle's eye;
Yet James is going in for his degree.
Vain are the efforts hapless mortals ply
To climb of knowledge the forbidden tree;
Yet still about its roots they strive and cry,
And James is going in for his degree.
The House Of Sleep
When we have laid aside our last endeavour,
And said farewell to one or two that weep,
And issued from the house of life for ever,
To find a lodging in the house of sleep -
With eyes fast shut, in sunless chambers lying,
With folded arms unmoved upon the breast,
Beyond the noise of sorrow and of crying,
Beyond the dread of dreaming, shall we rest?
Or shall there come at last desire of waking,
To walk again on hillsides that we know,
When sunrise through the cold white mist is breaking,
Or in the stillness of the after-glow?
Shall there be yearning for the sound of voices,
The sight of faces, and the touch of hands,
The will that works, the spirit that rejoices,
The heart that feels, the mind that understands?
Shall dreams and memories crowding from the distance,
Shall ghosts of old ambition or of mirth,
Create for us a shadow of existence,
A dim reflection of the life of earth?
And being dead, and powerless to recover
The substance of the show whereon we gaze,
Shall we be likened to the hapless lover,
Who broods upon the unreturning days?
Not so: for we have known how swift to perish
Is man's delight when youth and health take wing,
Until the winter leaves him nought to cherish
But recollections of a vanished spring.
Dream as we may, desire of life shall never
Disturb our slumbers in the house of sleep.
Yet oh, to think we may not greet for ever
The one or two that, when we leave them, weep!
Come Back To St Andrews
Come back to St. Andrews! Before you went away
You said you would be wretched where you could not see the Bay,
The East sands and the West sands and the castle in the sea
Come back to St. Andrews--St. Andrews and me.
Oh, it's dreary along South Street when the rain is coming down,
And the east wind makes the student draw more close his warm red gown,
As I often saw you do, when I watched you going by
On the stormy days to College, from my window up on high.
I wander on the Lade Braes, where I used to walk with you,
And purple are the woods of Mount Melville, budding new,
But I cannot bear to look, for the tears keep coming so,
And the Spring has lost the freshness which it had a year ago.
Yet often I could fancy, where the pathway takes a turn,
I shall see you in a moment, coming round beside the burn,
Coming round beside the burn, with your swinging step and free,
And your face lit up with pleasure at the sudden sight of me.
Beyond the Rock and Spindle, where we watched the water clear
In the happy April sunshine, with a happy sound to hear,
There I sat this afternoon, but no hand was holding mine,
And the water sounded eerie, though the April sun did shine.
Oh, why should I complain of what I know was bound to be?
For you had your way to make, and you must not think of me.
But a woman's heart is weak, and a woman's joys are few -
There are times when I could die for a moment's sight of you.
It may be you will come again, before my hair is grey
As the sea is in the twilight of a weary winter's day.
When success is grown a burden, and your heart would fain be free,
Come back to St. Andrews--St. Andrews and me.
Love's Worship Restored
O Love, thine empire is not dead,
Nor will we let thy worship go,
Although thine early flush be fled,
Thine ardent eyes more faintly glow,
And thy light wings be fallen slow
Since when as novices we came
Into the temple of thy name.
Not now with garlands in our hair,
And singing lips, we come to thee.
There is a coldness in the air,
A dulness on the encircling sea,
Which doth not well with songs agree.
And we forget the words we sang
When first to thee our voices rang.
When we recall that magic prime,
We needs must weep its early death.
How pleasant from thy towers the chime
Of bells, and sweet the incense breath
That rose while we, who kept thy faith,
Chanting our creed, and chanting bore
Our offerings to thine altar store!
Now are our voices out of tune,
Our gifts unworthy of thy name.
December frowns, in place of June.
Who smiled when to thy house we came,
We who came leaping, now are lame.
Dull ears and failing eyes are ours,
And who shall lead us to thy towers?
O hark! A sound across the air,
Which tells not of December's cold,
A sound most musical and rare.
Thy bells are ringing as of old,
With silver throats and tongues of gold.
Alas! it is too sweet for truth,
An empty echo of our youth.
Nay, never echo spake so loud!
It is indeed thy bells that ring.
And lo, against the leaden cloud,
Thy towers! Once more we leap and spring,
Once more melodiously we sing,
We sing, and in our song forget
That winter lies around us yet.
Oh, what is winter, now we know,
Full surely, thou canst never fail?
Forgive our weak untrustful woe,
Which deemed thy glowing face grown pale.
We know thee, mighty to prevail.
Doubt and decrepitude depart,
And youth comes back into the heart.
O Love, who turnest frost to flame
With ardent and immortal eyes,
Whose spirit sorrow cannot tame,
Nor time subdue in any wise -
While sun and moon for us shall rise,
Oh, may we in thy service keep
Till in thy faith we fall asleep!