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Title: A Calendar of Sonnets
Author: Jackson, Helen Hunt, 1830-1885
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.

*** Start of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "A Calendar of Sonnets" ***

  A Calendar of Sonnets


  Helen Jackson



  O winter! frozen pulse and heart of fire,
  What loss is theirs who from thy kingdom turn
  Dismayed, and think thy snow a sculptured urn
  Of death! Far sooner in midsummer tire
  The streams than under ice. June could not hire
  Her roses to forego the strength they learn
  In sleeping on thy breast. No fires can burn
  The bridges thou dost lay where men desire
  In vain to build.
                    O Heart, when Love's sun goes
  To northward, and the sounds of singing cease,
  Keep warm by inner fires, and rest in peace.
  Sleep on content, as sleeps the patient rose.
  Walk boldly on the white untrodden snows,
  The winter is the winter's own release.


  Still lie the sheltering snows, undimmed and white;
  And reigns the winter's pregnant silence still;
  No sign of spring, save that the catkins fill,
  And willow stems grow daily red and bright.
  These are the days when ancients held a rite
  Of expiation for the old year's ill,
  And prayer to purify the new year's will:
  Fit days, ere yet the spring rains blur the sight,
  Ere yet the bounding blood grows hot with haste,
  And dreaming thoughts grow heavy with a greed
  The ardent summer's joy to have and taste;
  Fit days, to give to last year's losses heed,
  To reckon clear the new life's sterner need;
  Fit days, for Feast of Expiation placed!


  Month which the warring ancients strangely styled
  The month of war,--as if in their fierce ways
  Were any month of peace!--in thy rough days
  I find no war in Nature, though the wild
  Winds clash and clang, and broken boughs are piled
  At feet of writhing trees. The violets raise
  Their heads without affright, without amaze,
  And sleep through all the din, as sleeps a child.
  And he who watches well may well discern
  Sweet expectation in each living thing.
  Like pregnant mother the sweet earth doth yearn;
  In secret joy makes ready for the spring;
  And hidden, sacred, in her breast doth bear
  Annunciation lilies for the year.


  No days such honored days as these! When yet
  Fair Aphrodite reigned, men seeking wide
  For some fair thing which should forever bide
  On earth, her beauteous memory to set
  In fitting frame that no age could forget,
  Her name in lovely April's name did hide,
  And leave it there, eternally allied
  To all the fairest flowers Spring did beget.
  And when fair Aphrodite passed from earth,
  Her shrines forgotten and her feasts of mirth,
  A holier symbol still in seal and sign,
  Sweet April took, of kingdom most divine,
  When Christ ascended, in the time of birth
  Of spring anemones, in Palestine.


  O month when they who love must love and wed!
  Were one to go to worlds where May is naught,
  And seek to tell the memories he had brought
  From earth of thee, what were most fitly said?
  I know not if the rosy showers shed
  From apple-boughs, or if the soft green wrought
  In fields, or if the robin's call be fraught
  The most with thy delight. Perhaps they read
  Thee best who in the ancient time did say
  Thou wert the sacred month unto the old:
  No blossom blooms upon thy brightest day
  So subtly sweet as memories which unfold
  In aged hearts which in thy sunshine lie,
  To sun themselves once more before they die.


  O month whose promise and fulfilment blend,
  And burst in one! it seems the earth can store
  In all her roomy house no treasure more;
  Of all her wealth no farthing have to spend
  On fruit, when once this stintless flowering end.
  And yet no tiniest flower shall fall before
  It hath made ready at its hidden core
  Its tithe of seed, which we may count and tend
  Till harvest. Joy of blossomed love, for thee
  Seems it no fairer thing can yet have birth?
  No room is left for deeper ecstasy?
  Watch well if seeds grow strong, to scatter free
  Germs for thy future summers on the earth.
  A joy which is but joy soon comes to dearth.


  Some flowers are withered and some joys have died;
  The garden reeks with an East Indian scent
  From beds where gillyflowers stand weak and spent;
  The white heat pales the skies from side to side;
  But in still lakes and rivers, cool, content,
  Like starry blooms on a new firmament,
  White lilies float and regally abide.
  In vain the cruel skies their hot rays shed;
  The lily does not feel their brazen glare.
  In vain the pallid clouds refuse to share
  Their dews; the lily feels no thirst, no dread.
  Unharmed she lifts her queenly face and head;
  She drinks of living waters and keeps fair.


  Silence again. The glorious symphony
  Hath need of pause and interval of peace.
  Some subtle signal bids all sweet sounds cease,
  Save hum of insects' aimless industry.
  Pathetic summer seeks by blazonry
  Of color to conceal her swift decrease.
  Weak subterfuge! Each mocking day doth fleece
  A blossom, and lay bare her poverty.
  Poor middle-agèd summer! Vain this show!
  Whole fields of golden-rod cannot offset
  One meadow with a single violet;
  And well the singing thrush and lily know,
  Spite of all artifice which her regret
  Can deck in splendid guise, their time to go!


  O golden month! How high thy gold is heaped!
  The yellow birch-leaves shine like bright coins strung
  On wands; the chestnut's yellow pennons tongue
  To every wind its harvest challenge. Steeped
  In yellow, still lie fields where wheat was reaped;
  And yellow still the corn sheaves, stacked among
  The yellow gourds, which from the earth have wrung
  Her utmost gold. To highest boughs have leaped
  The purple grape,--last thing to ripen, late
  By very reason of its precious cost.
  O Heart, remember, vintages are lost
  If grapes do not for freezing night-dews wait.
  Think, while thou sunnest thyself in Joy's estate,
  Mayhap thou canst not ripen without frost!


  The month of carnival of all the year,
  When Nature lets the wild earth go its way
  And spend whole seasons on a single day.
  The spring-time holds her white and purple dear;
  October, lavish, flaunts them far and near;
  The summer charily her reds doth lay
  Like jewels on her costliest array;
  October, scornful, burns them on a bier.
  The winter hoards his pearls of frost in sign
  Of kingdom: whiter pearls than winter knew,
  Or Empress wore, in Egypt's ancient line,
  October, feasting 'neath her dome of blue,
  Drinks at a single draught, slow filtered through
  Sunshiny air, as in a tingling wine!


  This is the treacherous month when autumn days
  With summer's voice come bearing summer's gifts.
  Beguiled, the pale down-trodden aster lifts
  Her head and blooms again. The soft, warm haze
  Makes moist once more the sere and dusty ways,
  And, creeping through where dead leaves lie in drifts,
  The violet returns. Snow noiseless sifts
  Ere night, an icy shroud, which morning's rays
  Will idly shine upon and slowly melt,
  Too late to bid the violet live again.
  The treachery, at last, too late, is plain;
  Bare are the places where the sweet flowers dwelt.
  What joy sufficient hath November felt?
  What profit from the violet's day of pain?


  The lakes of ice gleam bluer than the lakes
  Of water 'neath the summer sunshine gleamed:
  Far fairer than when placidly it streamed,
  The brook its frozen architecture makes,
  And under bridges white its swift way takes.
  Snow comes and goes as messenger who dreamed
  Might linger on the road; or one who deemed
  His message hostile gently for their sakes
  Who listened might reveal it by degrees.
  We gird against the cold of winter wind
  Our loins now with mighty bands of sleep,
  In longest, darkest nights take rest and ease,
  And every shortening day, as shadows creep
  O'er the brief noontide, fresh surprises find.

*** End of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "A Calendar of Sonnets" ***

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