Now is the tender moment of the year
When bards of Hellas feigned the sweet return
Of Ceres' daughter from the Night's sojourn.
Feigned? Nay, she comes apace--she now is here,
Soft-sobbing, while her mother's arms ensphere;
Soft-laughing, childlike striving to relearn
Familiar words forgot in Orcus stern--
While with her, sobs and laughs her mother dear.
Hence for us also doth the season weave
A subtile weft of heartache and fine joy:
We walk in gladness, yet some fond annoy
From unlaid sorrow to our steps will cleave;
But when we, single-hearted, turn to grieve,
Lo! some new beauty springs with quick decoy!
With pain of joy doth vernal nature thrill,
And takes its mood, sad-memoried, soothed, or wild,
From ever-changing moods of Ceres' child:
Her groping thought--the mists that valleys fill;
Her kindling life--the glow upon the hill
In mid-days when the quivering air is mild;
Her wistful glance--when golden suns have smiled
Goodnight on green fields stetching lone and still.
Anemone and cress rain-swept and blurred,
Stirring and sighings of the grass-blade frail,
Carols that wake among bare boughs, and fail,
The tree-toad's twilight cry, ere comes the bird--
Tokens of her thou hast both seen and heard,
And canst thou longer doubt the old Greek tale!
Thou knowest not I love thee--no, not yet,
More than the plains in heavy darkness drowned
Forecast that cheerful Day will flow around,
And to the ancient Night his limit set.
Thou knowest not thou hast me in thy debt,
More than this pallid winter-guarded ground
Forecasts the shower from April cloud unbound,
The drinking grass-blade and the violet.
Thou knowest not I love thee! Yet no less
Than as the Day and Springtide hither tend
Do I with unperceivèd motion bend
My gradual steps toward thee; nor canst thou guess
How I, for all delaying, will but bless
Thy life with richer service in the end.
Deep in the heart of savage Winter lies,
Untracked and fair, a realm of halcyon dreams.
Limpid and free run on the talking streams;
With bloomy drift the stooping tree replies.
Ofttimes a wood-sprite in a thrush's guise
Eludes all search, though near its rapture seems;
And morning meadows, where the dew yet gleams,
Look heavenward, vivid with a thousand eyes.
Last night Sleep bore me to this charm-wrapt place,
Where thou (supreme in joy and peace alway)
Wast gathering cool white florets born of May.
Of these one dazzled with so strange a grace
That I besought thee tell its name and race.
Thou smiling saidst, "It is the Eye of Day."
Bright days are with us, lengthened and serene.
The clods grow mellow, and the forest hath
Its budding pleasures; yet of Winter's scath
Some drear memorials here and there are seen.
For, though the wind no more breathes frosty-keen,
It often floats the old leaves in our path,
Or sighs along some unreaped aftermath,
To mind us of the rigor that hath been.
O thou my Joy, Spring of my Wondrous Year!
Forgive, if in thy presence aught of grief
Remain from that dead time ere thou wast here.
Now, surely, such gainsaying shall be brief;
For thou wilt set my feet where flower and leaf
And soft new sward blot out the stubble sere.