The elms are clad in triumph-robes of gold,
And orchards glowing in autumnal blaze,
Lifted from Earth to Heaven through dark'ning days
Flushed with a flame which they alone behold;
Gathered and stored, while seasons slowly rolled
Through that half-cycle, since the first love-lays
Of mating birds filled all the wooded ways
With promise, till the gorse lit up the wold.
Dear Earth! when Spring's new garments greet the sky
How fair is her awaking--green, beneath
The snow-fringed blue of April's canopy--
Still lovely through all growth, till that first wreath
Is turned to gold by true life's alchemy;
Most glorious in the vestments of her death.
I think Earth's glory consummates today,
And, like a gift, upon her altar lies:
There falls the flame-shaft on the sacrifice,
A sight to dream of when the heavens are grey.
The Swallow-armies still their flight delay
And form in broken lines. Approving skies
O'er-arch the splendour of these nameless dyes,
Sun-mingled--Earth's last effortless display.
A sight to dream of; to fulfil desire;
Seen, life's assured possession: Earth reveals,
Once in the perfect circle of the year,
Herself in passion and when gloom is here,
Or Winter's shroud across her bosom steals,
We know, beneath, she has a heart of fire.
Strange that accomplishment should balk desire;
Full hands bring emptied hopes and doubtful gain;
Fulfilment, with a sorrow in its train,
Rob aspiration of its vital fire:
Flushed brows, ere scarcely crowned, of kingship tire,
And pleasure comes, and, coming, turns to pain:
Less sad it is to seek than to obtain:
Want, not success, must restless souls inspire.
Spring's promise, Summer's progress--and the end
Satiety not satisfaction! Why
Can we not take the gifts the Seasons send
By their gift-bearer, Autumn? Must we cry
(In longing or regret our peace expend),
"I would possess!" possessing, "I would die"?