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´╗┐Title: A Dark Month - From Swinburne's Collected Poetical Works Vol. V
Author: Swinburne, Algernon Charles, 1837-1909
Language: English
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A Dark Month


By
Algernon Charles Swinburne

Taken from The Collected Poetical Works of
Algernon Charles Swinburne (Vol. V)



THE COLLECTED POETICAL WORKS
OF ALGERNON CHARLES SWINBURNE


VOL. V

STUDIES IN SONG : A CENTURY OF ROUNDELS : SONNETS ON
ENGLISH DRAMATIC POETS : THE HEPTALOGIA : ETC.



SWINBURNE'S POETICAL WORKS


   I. POEMS AND BALLADS (First Series).

  II. SONGS BEFORE SUNRISE, and SONGS OF TWO NATIONS.

 III. POEMS AND BALLADS (Second and Third Series), and
      SONGS OF THE SPRING TIDES.

  IV. TRISTRAM OF LYONESSE, THE TALE OF BALEN,
      ATALANTA IN CALYDON, ERECHTHEUS.

   V. STUDIES IN SONG, A CENTURY OF ROUNDELS, SONNETS ON ENGLISH
      DRAMATIC POETS, THE HEPTALOGIA, ETC.

  VI. A MIDSUMMER HOLIDAY, ASTROPHEL, A CHANNEL PASSAGE AND OTHER
      POEMS.


LONDON: WILLIAM HEINEMANN



STUDIES IN SONG : A CENTURY OF ROUNDELS : SONNETS ON
ENGLISH DRAMATIC POETS : THE HEPTALOGIA : ETC.

By

Algernon Charles Swinburne


1917

LONDON: WILLIAM HEINEMANN



_First printed (Chatto), 1904_
_Reprinted 1904, '09, '10, '12_
_(Heinemann), 1917_


_London: William Heinemann, 1917_



A DARK MONTH

"La maison sans enfants!"--VICTOR HUGO.


    I

    A month without sight of the sun
      Rising or reigning or setting
    Through days without use of the day,
    Who calls it the month of May?
    The sense of the name is undone
      And the sound of it fit for forgetting.

    We shall not feel if the sun rise,
      We shall not care when it sets:
    If a nightingale make night's air
    As noontide, why should we care?
    Till a light of delight that is done rise,
      Extinguishing grey regrets;

    Till a child's face lighten again
      On the twilight of older faces;
    Till a child's voice fall as the dew
    On furrows with heat parched through
    And all but hopeless of grain,
      Refreshing the desolate places--

    Fall clear on the ears of us hearkening
      And hungering for food of the sound
    And thirsting for joy of his voice:
    Till the hearts in us hear and rejoice,
    And the thoughts of them doubting and darkening
      Rejoice with a glad thing found.

    When the heart of our gladness is gone,
      What comfort is left with us after?
    When the light of our eyes is away,
    What glory remains upon May,
    What blessing of song is thereon
      If we drink not the light of his laughter?

    No small sweet face with the daytime
      To welcome, warmer than noon!
    No sweet small voice as a bird's
    To bring us the day's first words!
    Mid May for us here is not Maytime:
      No summer begins with June.

    A whole dead month in the dark,
      A dawn in the mists that o'ercome her
    Stifled and smothered and sad--
    Swift speed to it, barren and bad!
    And return to us, voice of the lark,
      And remain with us, sunlight of summer.


    II

    Alas, what right has the dawn to glimmer,
      What right has the wind to do aught but moan?
    All the day should be dimmer
      Because we are left alone.

    Yestermorn like a sunbeam present
      Hither and thither a light step smiled,
    And made each place for us pleasant
      With the sense or the sight of a child.

    But the leaves persist as before, and after
      Our parting the dull day still bears flowers;
    And songs less bright than his laughter
      Deride us from birds in the bowers.

    Birds, and blossoms, and sunlight only,
      As though such folly sufficed for spring!
    As though the house were not lonely
      For want of the child its king!


    III

    Asleep and afar to-night my darling
      Lies, and heeds not the night,
    If winds be stirring or storms be snarling;
      For his sleep is its own sweet light.

    I sit where he sat beside me quaffing
      The wine of story and song
    Poured forth of immortal cups, and laughing
      When mirth in the draught grew strong.

    I broke the gold of the words, to melt it
      For hands but seven years old,
    And they caught the tale as a bird, and felt it
      More bright than visible gold.

    And he drank down deep, with his eyes broad beaming,
      Here in this room where I am,
    The golden vintage of Shakespeare, gleaming
      In the silver vessels of Lamb.

    Here by my hearth where he was I listen
      For the shade of the sound of a word,
    Athirst for the birdlike eyes to glisten,
      For the tongue to chirp like a bird.

    At the blast of battle, how broad they brightened,
      Like fire in the spheres of stars,
    And clung to the pictured page, and lightened
      As keen as the heart of Mars!

    At the touch of laughter, how swift it twittered
      The shrillest music on earth;
    How the lithe limbs laughed and the whole child glittered
      With radiant riot of mirth!

    Our Shakespeare now, as a man dumb-stricken,
      Stands silent there on the shelf:
    And my thoughts, that had song in the heart of them, sicken,
      And relish not Shakespeare's self.

    And my mood grows moodier than Hamlet's even,
      And man delights not me,
    But only the face that morn and even
      My heart leapt only to see.

    That my heart made merry within me seeing,
      And sang as his laugh kept time:
    But song finds now no pleasure in being,
      And love no reason in rhyme.


    IV

    Mild May-blossom and proud sweet bay-flower,
      What, for shame, would you have with us here?
    It is not the month of the May-flower
      This, but the fall of the year.

    Flowers open only their lips in derision,
      Leaves are as fingers that point in scorn
    The shows we see are a vision;
      Spring is not verily born.

    Yet boughs turn supple and buds grow sappy,
      As though the sun were indeed the sun:
    And all our woods are happy
      With all their birds save one.

    But spring is over, but summer is over,
      But autumn is over, and winter stands
    With his feet sunk deep in the clover
      And cowslips cold in his hands.

    His hoar grim head has a hawthorn bonnet,
      His gnarled gaunt hand has a gay green staff
    With new-blown rose-blossom on it:
      But his laugh is a dead man's laugh.

    The laugh of spring that the heart seeks after,
      The hand that the whole world yearns to kiss,
    It rings not here in his laughter,
      The sign of it is not this.

    There is not strength in it left to splinter
      Tall oaks, nor frost in his breath to sting:
    Yet it is but a breath as of winter,
      And it is not the hand of spring.


    V

    Thirty-one pale maidens, clad
      All in mourning dresses,
    Pass, with lips and eyes more sad
    That it seems they should be glad,
    Heads discrowned of crowns they had,
      Grey for golden tresses.

    Grey their girdles too for green,
      And their veils dishevelled:
    None would say, to see their mien,
    That the least of these had been
    Born no baser than a queen,
      Reared where flower-fays revelled.

    Dreams that strive to seem awake,
      Ghosts that walk by daytime,
    Weary winds the way they take,
    Since, for one child's absent sake,
    May knows well, whate'er things make
      Sport, it is not Maytime.


    VI

    A hand at the door taps light
    As the hand of my heart's delight:
      It is but a full-grown hand,
    Yet the stroke of it seems to start
    Hope like a bird in my heart,
      Too feeble to soar or to stand.

    To start light hope from her cover
    Is to raise but a kite for a plover
      If her wings be not fledged to soar.
    Desire, but in dreams, cannot ope
    The door that was shut upon hope
      When love went out at the door.

    Well were it if vision could keep
    The lids of desire as in sleep
      Fast locked, and over his eyes
    A dream with the dark soft key
    In her hand might hover, and be
      Their keeper till morning rise;

    The morning that brings after many
    Days fled with no light upon any
      The small face back which is gone;
    When the loved little hands once more
    Shall struggle and strain at the door
      They beat their summons upon.


    VII

    If a soul for but seven days were cast out of heaven and its mirth,
    They would seem to her fears like as seventy years upon earth.

    Even and morrow should seem to her sorrow as long
    As the passage of numberless ages in slumberless song.

    Dawn, roused by the lark, would be surely as dark in her sight
    As her measureless measure of shadowless pleasure was bright.

    Noon, gilt but with glory of gold, would be hoary and grey
    In her eyes that had gazed on the depths, unamazed with the day.

    Night hardly would seem to make darker her dream never done,
    When it could but withhold what a man may behold of the sun.

    For dreams would perplex, were the days that should vex her but seven,
    The sight of her vision, made dark with division from heaven.

    Till the light on my lonely way lighten that only now gleams,
    I too am divided from heaven and derided of dreams.


    VIII

    A twilight fire-fly may suggest
      How flames the fire that feeds the sun:
    "A crooked figure may attest
      In little space a million."

    But this faint-figured verse, that dresses
      With flowers the bones of one bare month,
    Of all it would say scarce expresses
      In crooked ways a millionth.

    A fire-fly tenders to the father
      Of fires a tribute something worth:
    My verse, a shard-borne beetle rather,
      Drones over scarce-illumined earth.

    Some inches round me though it brighten
      With light of music-making thought,
    The dark indeed it may not lighten,
      The silence moves not, hearing nought.

    Only my heart is eased with hearing,
      Only mine eyes are soothed with seeing,
    A face brought nigh, a footfall nearing,
      Till hopes take form and dreams have being.


    IX

    As a poor man hungering stands with insatiate eyes and hands
                  Void of bread
    Right in sight of men that feast while his famine with no least
                  Crumb is fed,

    Here across the garden-wall can I hear strange children call,
                  Watch them play,
    From the windowed seat above, whence the goodlier child I love
                  Is away.

    Here the sights we saw together moved his fancy like a feather
                  To and fro,
    Now to wonder, and thereafter to the sunny storm of laughter
                  Loud and low--

    Sights engraven on storied pages where man's tale of seven
        swift ages
                  All was told--
    Seen of eyes yet bright from heaven--for the lips that laughed
        were seven
                  Sweet years old.


    X

    Why should May remember
      March, if March forget
    The days that began with December
      The nights that a frost could fret?

    All their griefs are done with
      Now the bright months bless
    Fit souls to rejoice in the sun with,
      Fit heads for the wind's caress;

    Souls of children quickening
      With the whole world's mirth,
    Heads closelier than field-flowers thickening
      That crowd and illuminate earth,

    Now that May's call musters
      Files of baby bands
    To marshal in joyfuller clusters
      Than the flowers that encumber their hands.

    Yet morose November
      Found them no less gay,
    With nought to forget or remember
      Less bright than a branch of may.

    All the seasons moving
      Move their minds alike
    Applauding, acclaiming, approving
      All hours of the year that strike.

    So my heart may fret not,
      Wondering if my friend
    Remember me not or forget not
      Or ever the month find end.

    Not that love sows lighter
      Seed in children sown,
    But that life being lit in them brighter
      Moves fleeter than even our own.

    May nor yet September
      Binds their hearts, that yet
    Remember, forget, and remember,
      Forget, and recall, and forget.


    XI

    As light on a lake's face moving
      Between a cloud and a cloud
    Till night reclaim it, reproving
      The heart that exults too loud,

    The heart that watching rejoices
      When soft it swims into sight
    Applauded of all the voices
      And stars of the windy night,

    So brief and unsure, but sweeter
      Than ever a moondawn smiled,
    Moves, measured of no tune's metre,
      The song in the soul of a child;

    The song that the sweet soul singing
      Half listens, and hardly hears,
    Though sweeter than joy-bells ringing
      And brighter than joy's own tears;

    The song that remembrance of pleasure
      Begins, and forgetfulness ends
    With a soft swift change in the measure
      That rings in remembrance of friends

    As the moon on the lake's face flashes,
      So haply may gleam at whiles
    A dream through the dear deep lashes
      Whereunder a child's eye smiles,

    And the least of us all that love him
      May take for a moment part
    With angels around and above him,
      And I find place in his heart.


    XII

    Child, were you kinless and lonely--
      Dear, were you kin to me--
    My love were compassionate only
      Or such as it needs would be.

    But eyes of father and mother
      Like sunlight shed on you shine:
    What need you have heed of another
      Such new strange love as is mine?

    It is not meet if unruly
      Hands take of the children's bread
    And cast it to dogs; but truly
      The dogs after all would be fed.

    On crumbs from the children's table
      That crumble, dropped from above,
    My heart feeds, fed with unstable
      Loose waifs of a child's light love.

    Though love in your heart were brittle
      As glass that breaks with a touch,
    You haply would lend him a little
      Who surely would give you much.


    XIII

    Here is a rough
      Rude sketch of my friend,
    Faint-coloured enough
      And unworthily penned.

    Fearlessly fair
      And triumphant he stands,
    And holds unaware
      Friends' hearts in his hands;

    Stalwart and straight
      As an oak that should bring
    Forth gallant and great
      Fresh roses in spring.

    On the paths of his pleasure
      All graces that wait
    What metre shall measure
      What rhyme shall relate

    Each action, each motion,
      Each feature, each limb,
    Demands a devotion
      In honour of him:

    Head that the hand
      Of a god might have blest,
    Laid lustrous and bland
      On the curve of its crest:

    Mouth sweeter than cherries,
      Keen eyes as of Mars,
    Browner than berries
      And brighter than stars.

    Nor colour nor wordy
      Weak song can declare
    The stature how sturdy,
      How stalwart his air.

    As a king in his bright
      Presence-chamber may be,
    So seems he in height--
      Twice higher than your knee.

    As a warrior sedate
      With reserve of his power,
    So seems he in state--
      As tall as a flower:

    As a rose overtowering
      The ranks of the rest
    That beneath it lie cowering,
      Less bright than their best.

    And his hands are as sunny
      As ruddy ripe corn
    Or the browner-hued honey
      From heather-bells borne.

    When summer sits proudest,
      Fulfilled with its mirth,
    And rapture is loudest
      In air and on earth,

    The suns of all hours
      That have ripened the roots
    Bring forth not such flowers
      And beget not such fruits.

    And well though I know it,
      As fain would I write,
    Child, never a poet
      Could praise you aright.

    I bless you? the blessing
      Were less than a jest
    Too poor for expressing;
      I come to be blest,

    With humble and dutiful
      Heart, from above:
    Bless me, O my beautiful
      Innocent love!

    This rhyme in your praise
      With a smile was begun;
    But the goal of his ways
      Is uncovered to none,

    Nor pervious till after
      The limit impend;
    It is not in laughter
      These rhymes of you end.


    XIV

    Spring, and fall, and summer, and winter,
      Which may Earth love least of them all,
    Whose arms embrace as their signs imprint her,
      Summer, or winter, or spring, or fall?

    The clear-eyed spring with the wood-birds mating,
      The rose-red summer with eyes aglow,
    The yellow fall with serene eyes waiting,
      The wild-eyed winter with hair all snow?

    Spring's eyes are soft, but if frosts benumb her
      As winter's own will her shrewd breath sting:
    Storms may rend the raiment of summer,
      And fall grow bitter as harsh-lipped spring.

    One sign for summer and winter guides me,
      One for spring, and the like for fall:
    Whichever from sight of my friend divides me,
      That is the worst ill season of all.


    XV

    Worse than winter is spring
    If I come not to sight of my king:
    But then what a spring will it be
    When my king takes homage of me!

    I send his grace from afar
    Homage, as though to a star;
    As a shepherd whose flock takes flight
    May worship a star by night.

    As a flock that a wolf is upon
    My songs take flight and are gone:
    No heart is in any to sing
    Aught but the praise of my king.

    Fain would I once and again
    Sing deeds and passions of men:
    But ever a child's head gleams
    Between my work and my dreams.

    Between my hand and my eyes
    The lines of a small face rise,
    And the lines I trace and retrace
    Are none but those of the face.


    XVI

    Till the tale of all this flock of days alike
          All be done,
    Weary days of waiting till the month's hand strike
          Thirty-one,
    Till the clock's hand of the month break off, and end
          With the clock,
    Till the last and whitest sheep at last be penned
          Of the flock,
    I their shepherd keep the count of night and day
          With my song,
    Though my song be, like this month which once was May,
          All too long.


    XVII

    The incarnate sun, a tall strong youth,
      On old Greek eyes in sculpture smiled:
    But trulier had it given the truth
      To shape him like a child.

    No face full-grown of all our dearest
      So lightens all our darkness, none
    Most loved of all our hearts hold nearest
      To far outshines the sun,

    As when with sly shy smiles that feign
      Doubt if the hour be clear, the time
    Fit to break off my work again
      Or sport of prose or rhyme,

    My friend peers in on me with merry
      Wise face, and though the sky stay dim
    The very light of day, the very
      Sun's self comes in with him.


    XVIII

    Out of sight,
      Out of mind!
    Could the light
      Prove unkind?

    Can the sun
      Quite forget
    What was done
      Ere he set?

    Does the moon
      When she wanes
    Leave no tune
      That remains

    In the void
      Shell of night
    Overcloyed
      With her light?

    Must the shore
      At low tide
    Feel no more
      Hope or pride,

    No intense
      Joy to be,
    In the sense
      Of the sea--

    In the pulses
      Of her shocks
    It repulses,
      When its rocks

    Thrill and ring
      As with glee?
    Has my king
      Cast off me,

    Whom no bird
      Flying south
    Brings one word
      From his mouth?

    Not the ghost
      Of a word.
    Riding post
      Have I heard,

    Since the day
      When my king
    Took away
      With him spring,

    And the cup
      Of each flower
    Shrivelled up
      That same hour,

    With no light
      Left behind.
    Out of sight,
      Out of mind!


    XIX

    Because I adore you
      And fall
    On the knees of my spirit before you--
      After all,

    You need not insult,
      My king,
    With neglect, though your spirit exult
      In the spring,

    Even me, though not worth,
      God knows,
    One word of you sent me in mirth,
      Or one rose

    Out of all in your garden
      That grow
    Where the frost and the wind never harden
      Flakes of snow,

    Nor ever is rain
      At all,
    But the roses rejoice to remain
      Fair and tall--

    The roses of love,
      More sweet
    Than blossoms that rain from above
      Round our feet,

    When under high bowers
      We pass,
    Where the west wind freckles with flowers
      All the grass.

    But a child's thoughts bear
      More bright
    Sweet visions by day, and more fair
      Dreams by night,

    Than summer's whole treasure
      Can be:
    What am I that his thought should take pleasure,
      Then, in me?

    I am only my love's
      True lover,
    With a nestful of songs, like doves
      Under cover,

    That I bring in my cap
      Fresh caught,
    To be laid on my small king's lap--
      Worth just nought.

    Yet it haply may hap
      That he,
    When the mirth in his veins is as sap
      In a tree,

    Will remember me too
      Some day
    Ere the transit be thoroughly through
      Of this May--

    Or perchance, if such grace
      May be,
    Some night when I dream of his face.
      Dream of me.

    Or if this be too high
      A hope
    For me to prefigure in my
      Horoscope,

    He may dream of the place
      Where we
    Basked once in the light of his face,
      Who now see

    Nought brighter, not one
      Thing bright,
    Than the stars and the moon and the sun,
      Day nor night.


    XX

        Day by darkling day,
        Overpassing, bears away
    Somewhat of the burden of this weary May.

        Night by numbered night,
        Waning, brings more near in sight
    Hope that grows to vision of my heart's delight.

        Nearer seems to burn
        In the dawn's rekindling urn
    Flame of fragrant incense, hailing his return.

        Louder seems each bird
        In the brightening branches heard
    Still to speak some ever more delightful word.

        All the mists that swim
        Round the dawns that grow less dim
    Still wax brighter and more bright with hope of him.

        All the suns that rise
        Bring that day more near our eyes
    When the sight of him shall clear our clouded skies.

        All the winds that roam
        Fruitful fields or fruitless foam
    Blow the bright hour near that brings his bright face home.


    XXI

    I hear of two far hence
      In a garden met,
    And the fragrance blown from thence
      Fades not yet.

    The one is seven years old,
      And my friend is he:
    But the years of the other have told
      Eighty-three.

    To hear these twain converse
      Or to see them greet
    Were sweeter than softest verse
      May be sweet.

    The hoar old gardener there
      With an eye more mild
    Perchance than his mild white hair
      Meets the child.

    I had rather hear the words
      That the twain exchange
    Than the songs of all the birds
      There that range,

    Call, chirp, and twitter there
      Through the garden-beds
    Where the sun alike sees fair
      Those two heads,

    And which may holier be
      Held in heaven of those
    Or more worth heart's thanks to see
      No man knows.


    XXII

    Of such is the kingdom of heaven,
      No glory that ever was shed
    From the crowning star of the seven
      That crown the north world's head,

    No word that ever was spoken
      Of human or godlike tongue,
    Gave ever such godlike token
      Since human harps were strung.

    No sign that ever was given
      To faithful or faithless eyes
    Showed ever beyond clouds riven
      So clear a Paradise.

    Earth's creeds may be seventy times seven
      And blood have defiled each creed:
    If of such be the kingdom of heaven,
      It must be heaven indeed.


    XXIII

    The wind on the downs is bright
      As though from the sea:
    And morning and night
      Take comfort again with me.

    He is nearer to-day,
      Each night to each morning saith,
    Whose return shall revive dead May
      With the balm of his breath.

    The sunset says to the moon,
      He is nearer to-night
    Whose coming in June
      Is looked for more than the light.

    Bird answers to bird,
      Hour passes the sign on to hour,
    And for joy of the bright news heard
      Flower murmurs to flower.

    The ways that were glad of his feet
      In the woods that he knew
    Grow softer to meet
      The sense of his footfall anew.

    He is near now as day,
      Says hope to the new-born light:
    He is near now as June is to May,
      Says love to the night.


    XXIV

    Good things I keep to console me
      For lack of the best of all,
    A child to command and control me,
      Bid come and remain at his call.

    Sun, wind, and woodland and highland,
      Give all that ever they gave:
    But my world is a cultureless island,
      My spirit a masterless slave.

    And friends are about me, and better
      At summons of no man stand:
    But I pine for the touch of a fetter,
      The curb of a strong king's hand.

    Each hour of the day in her season
      Is mine to be served as I will:
    And for no more exquisite reason
      Are all served idly and ill.

    By slavery my sense is corrupted,
      My soul not fit to be free:
    I would fain be controlled, interrupted,
      Compelled as a thrall may be.

    For fault of spur and of bridle
      I tire of my stall to death:
    My sail flaps joyless and idle
      For want of a small child's breath.


    XXV

    Whiter and whiter
      The dark lines grow,
    And broader opens and brighter
      The sense of the text below.

    Nightfall and morrow
      Bring nigher the boy
    Whom wanting we want not sorrow,
      Whom having we want no joy.

    Clearer and clearer
      The sweet sense grows
    Of the word which hath summer for hearer,
      The word on the lips of the rose.

    Duskily dwindles
      Each deathlike day,
    Till June rearising rekindles
      The depth of the darkness of May.


    XXVI

        "In his bright radiance and collateral light
        Must I be comforted, not in his sphere."

    Stars in heaven are many,
      Suns in heaven but one:
    Nor for man may any
      Star supplant the sun.

    Many a child as joyous
      As our far-off king
    Meets as though to annoy us
      In the paths of spring.

    Sure as spring gives warning,
      All things dance in tune:
    Sun on Easter morning,
      Cloud and windy moon,

    Stars between the tossing
      Boughs of tuneful trees,
    Sails of ships recrossing
      Leagues of dancing seas;

    Best, in all this playtime,
      Best of all in tune,
    Girls more glad than Maytime,
      Boys more bright than June;

    Mixed with all those dances,
      Far through field and street
    Sing their silent glances,
      Ring their radiant feet.

    Flowers wherewith May crowned us
      Fall ere June be crowned:
    Children blossom round us
      All the whole year round.

    Is the garland worthless
      For one rose the less,
    And the feast made mirthless?
      Love, at least, says yes.

    Strange it were, with many
      Stars enkindling air,
    Should but one find any
      Welcome: strange it were,

    Had one star alone won
      Praise for light from far:
    Nay, love needs his own one
      Bright particular star.

    Hope and recollection
      Only lead him right
    In its bright reflection
      And collateral light.

    Find as yet we may not
      Comfort in its sphere:
    Yet these days will weigh not
      When it warms us here;

    When full-orbed it rises,
      Now divined afar:
    None in all the skies is
      Half so good a star;

    None that seers importune
      Till a sign be won:
    Star of our good fortune,
      Rise and reign, our sun!


    XXVII

    I pass by the small room now forlorn
      Where once each night as I passed I knew
    A child's bright sleep from even to morn
      Made sweet the whole night through.

    As a soundless shell, as a songless nest,
      Seems now the room that was radiant then
    And fragrant with his happier rest
      Than that of slumbering men.

    The day therein is less than the day,
      The night is indeed night now therein:
    Heavier the dark seems there to weigh,
      And slower the dawns begin.

    As a nest fulfilled with birds, as a shell
      Fulfilled with breath of a god's own hymn,
    Again shall be this bare blank cell,
      Made sweet again with him.


    XXVIII

    Spring darkens before us,
      A flame going down,
    With chant from the chorus
      Of days without crown--
    Cloud, rain, and sonorous
      Soft wind on the down.

    She is wearier not of us
      Than we of the dream
    That spring was to love us
      And joy was to gleam
    Through the shadows above us
      That shift as they stream.

    Half dark and half hoary,
      Float far on the loud
    Mild wind, as a glory
      Half pale and half proud
    From the twilight of story,
      Her tresses of cloud;

    Like phantoms that glimmer
      Of glories of old
    With ever yet dimmer
      Pale circlets of gold
    As darkness grows grimmer
      And memory more cold.

    Like hope growing clearer
      With wane of the moon,
    Shines toward us the nearer
      Gold frontlet of June,
    And a face with it dearer
      Than midsummer noon.


    XXIX

    You send me your love in a letter,
      I send you my love in a song:
    Ah child, your gift is the better,
      Mine does you but wrong.

    No fame, were the best less brittle,
      No praise, were it wide as earth,
    Is worth so much as a little
      Child's love may be worth.

    We see the children above us
      As they might angels above:
    Come back to us, child, if you love us,
      And bring us your love.


    XXX

    No time for books or for letters:
      What time should there be?
    No room for tasks and their fetters:
      Full room to be free.

    The wind and the sun and the Maytime
      Had never a guest
    More worthy the most that his playtime
      Could give of its best.

    If rain should come on, peradventure,
      (But sunshine forbid!)
    Vain hope in us haply might venture
      To dream as it did.

    But never may come, of all comers
      Least welcome, the rain,
    To mix with his servant the summer's
      Rose-garlanded train!

    He would write, but his hours are as busy
      As bees in the sun,
    And the jubilant whirl of their dizzy
      Dance never is done.

    The message is more than a letter,
      Let love understand,
    And the thought of his joys even better
      Than sight of his hand.


    XXXI

          Wind, high-souled, full-hearted
            South-west wind of the spring!
          Ere April and earth had parted,
            Skies, bright with thy forward wing,
    Grew dark in an hour with the shadow behind it, that bade not a
        bird dare sing.

          Wind whose feet are sunny,
            Wind whose wings are cloud,
          With lips more sweet than honey
            Still, speak they low or loud,
    Rejoice now again in the strength of thine heart: let the depth of
        thy soul wax proud.

          We hear thee singing or sighing,
            Just not given to sight,
          All but visibly flying
            Between the clouds and the light,
    And the light in our hearts is enkindled, the shadow therein of the
        clouds put to flight.

          From the gift of thine hands we gather
            The core of the flowers therein,
          Keen glad heart of heather,
            Hot sweet heart of whin,
    Twin breaths in thy godlike breath close blended of wild spring's
        wildest of kin.

          All but visibly beating
            We feel thy wings in the far
          Clear waste, and the plumes of them fleeting,
            Soft as swan's plumes are,
    And strong as a wild swan's pinions, and swift as the flash of the
        flight of a star.

          As the flight of a planet enkindled
            Seems thy far soft flight
          Now May's reign has dwindled
            And the crescent of June takes light
    And the presence of summer is here, and the hope of a welcomer
        presence in sight.

          Wind, sweet-souled, great-hearted
            Southwest wind on the wold!
          From us is a glory departed
            That now shall return as of old,
    Borne back on thy wings as an eagle's expanding, and crowned with
        the sundawn's gold.

          There is not a flower but rejoices,
            There is not a leaf but has heard:
          All the fields find voices,
            All the woods are stirred:
    There is not a nest but is brighter because of the coming of one
        bright bird.

          Out of dawn and morning,
            Noon and afternoon,
          The sun to the world gives warning
            Of news that brightens the moon;
    And the stars all night exult with us, hearing of joy that shall
        come with June.



{Transcriber's note:

    The line in number VII

          To far outshines the sun,

    appears thus in the original. It may be a misprint.}





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