Page images

In Early Spring

To her fair works did Nature link

The human soul that through me ran;
And much it grieved my heart to think
What Man has made of Man.

Through primrose tufts, in that sweet bower,
The periwinkle trailed its wreaths;
And 'tis my faith that every flower
Enjoys the air it breathes.

The birds around me hopped and played,
Their thoughts I cannot measure,-

But the least motion which they made
It seemed a thrill of pleasure.

The budding twigs spread out their fan
To catch the breezy air;

And I must think, do all I can,
That there was pleasure there.

If this belief from heaven be sent,
If such be Nature's holy plan,
Have I not reason to lament

What Man has made of Man?


William Wordsworth (1770-1850]


O SPRING, I know thee! Seek for sweet surprise
In the young children's eyes.

But I have learnt the years, and know the yet
Leaf-folded violet.

Mine ear, awake to silence, can foretell

The cuckoo's fitful bell.

I wander in a gray time that encloses
June and the wild hedge-roses.

A year's procession of the flowers doth pass
My feet, along the grass.

And all you sweet birds silent yet, I know

The notes that stir you so,

Your songs yet half devised in the dim dear
Beginnings of the year.

In these young days you meditate your part;
I have it all by heart.

I know the secrets of the seeds of flowers
Hidden and warm with showers,

And how, in kindling Spring, the cuckoo shall

Alter his interval.

But not a flower or song I ponder is

My own, but memory's.

I shall be silent in those days desired

Before a world inspired.

O dear brown birds, compose your old song-phrases, Earth, thy familiar daisies.

The poet mused upon the dusky height,

Between two stars towards night,

His purpose in his heart. I watched, a space,
The meaning of his face:

There was the secret, fled from earth and skies,
Hid in his gray young eyes.

My heart and all the Summer wait his choice,
And wonder for his voice.

Who shall foretell his songs, and who aspire
But to divine his lyre?

Sweet earth, we know thy dimmest mysteries,
But he is lord of his.

Alice Meynell [1853


From "Summer's Last Will and Testament "

SPRING, the sweet Spring, is the year's pleasant king;
Then blooms each thing, then maids dance in a ring,
Cold doth not sting, the pretty birds do sing-
Cuckoo, jug-jug, pu-we, to-witta-woo!

The palm and may make country houses gay,
Lambs frisk and play, the shepherds pipe all day,
And we hear aye birds tune this merry lay-

Cuckoo, jug-jug, pu-we, to-witta-woo!

"When Daffodils Begin to Peer" 1295

The fields breathe sweet, the daisies kiss our feet,
Young lovers meet, old wives a-sunning sit,
In every street these tunes our ears do greet-
Cuckoo, jug-jug, pu-we, to-witta-too!

Spring, the sweet Spring!

Thomas Nashe [1567-1601]


From "Alexander and Campaspe "

WHAT bird so sings, yet so does wail?
O, 'tis the ravished nightingale!
“Jug, jug, jug, jug, tereu,” she cries,
And still her woes at midnight rise.
Brave prick-song! who is't now we hear?
None but the lark so shrill and clear;
Now at heaven's gate she claps her wings,
The morn not waking till she sings.
Hark, hark, with what a pretty throat
Poor robin-redbreast tunes his note;

Hark, how the jolly cuckoos sing

[ocr errors]

Cuckoo!" to welcome in the spring,

"Cuckoo!" to welcome in the spring!

John Lyly [1554?-1606]


From "The Winter's Tale"

WHEN daffodils begin to peer,

With heigh! the doxy, over the dale,

Why, then comes in the sweet o' the year;
For the red blood reigns in the winter's pale.

The white sheet bleaching on the hedge,

With heigh! the sweet birds, O, how they sing!

Doth set my pugging tooth on edge;

For a quart of ale is a dish for a king.

The lark, that tirra-lirra chants,

With heigh! with heigh! the thrush and the jay, Are summer songs for me and my aunts,

While we lie tumbling in the hay.

William Shakespeare [1564-1616]


From "In Memoriam "


DIP down upon the northern shore,
O sweet new-year, delaying long;
Thou doest expectant Nature wrong,
Delaying long, delay no more.

What stays thee from the clouded noons,
Thy sweetness from its proper place?
Can trouble live with April days,
Or sadness in the summer moons?

Bring orchis, bring the fox-glove spire,
The little speedwell's darling blue,
Deep tulips dashed with fiery dew,
Laburnums, dropping-wells of fire.

O thou, new-year, delaying long,
Delayest the sorrow in my blood,
That longs to burst a frozen bud,
And flood a fresher throat with song.


Now fades the last long streak of snow,

Now burgeons every maze of quick
About the flowering squares, and thick

By ashen roots the violets blow.

Now rings the woodland loud and long,
The distance takes a lovelier hue,
And drowned in yonder living blue
The lark becomes a sightless song.

"When the Hounds of Spring" 1297

Now dance the lights on lawn and lea,
The flocks are whiter down the vale,
And milkier every milky sail,

On winding stream or distant sea;

Where now the seamew pipes, or dives
In yonder greening gleam, and fly
The happy birds, that change their sky
To build and brood, that live their lives

From land to land; and in my breast
Spring wakens too: and my regret
Become an April violet,

And buds and blossoms like the rest.

Alfred Tennyson [1809-1892]


THE Spring returns! What matters then that War
On the horizon like a beacon burns,

That Death ascends, man's most desirèd star,
That Darkness is his hope? The Spring returns!
Triumphant through the wider-arched cope
She comes, she comes, unto her tyranny,

And at her coronation are set ope

The prisons of the mind, and man is free!

The beggar-garbed or over-bent with snows,

Each mortal, long defeated, disallowed,

Feeling her touch, grows stronger limbed, and knows
The purple on his shoulders and is proud.

The Spring returns! O madness beyond sense,
Breed in our bones thine own omnipotence!

Charles Leonard Moore [1854

Chorus from "Atalanta in Calydon "

WHEN the hounds of spring are on winter's traces,
The mother of months in meadow or plain

Fills the shadows and windy places

With lisp of leaves and ripple of rain;

« PreviousContinue »