Page images
[blocks in formation]

From the Prelude to "The Vision of Sir Launfal"

OVER his keys the musing organist,
Beginning doubtfully and far away,
First lets his fingers wander as they list,

And builds a bridge from Dreamland for his lay:
Then, as the touch of his loved instrument
Gives hope and fervor, nearer draws his theme,
First guessed by faint auroral flushes sent
Along the wavering vista of his dream.

Not only around our infancy

Doth heaven with all its splendors lie;
Daily, with souls that cringe and plot,
We Sinais climb and know it not.

Over our manhood bend the skies;
Against our fallen and traitor lives

The great winds utter prophecies;

With our faint hearts the mountain strives; Its arms outstretched, the druid wood

Waits with its benedicite;

And to our age's drowsy blood

Still shouts the inspiring sea.

Earth gets its price for what Earth gives us;
The beggar is taxed for a corner to die in,
The priest hath his fee who comes and shrives us,
We bargain for the graves we lie in;

At the devil's booth are all things sold,
Each ounce of dross costs its ounce of gold;
For a cap and bells our lives we pay,
Bubbles we buy with a whole soul's tasking:
'Tis heaven alone that is given away,
'Tis only God may be had for the asking;
No price is set on the lavish summer;
June may be had by the poorest comer.

And what is so rare as a day in June?
Then, if ever, come perfect days;
Then Heaven tries earth if it be in tune,
And over it softly her warm ear lays;
Whether we look, or whether we listen,
We hear life murmur, or see it glisten;
Every clod feels a stir of might,

An instinct within it that reaches and towers,
And, groping blindly above it for light,
Climbs to a soul in grass and flowers;
The flush of life may well be seen

Thrilling back over hills and valleys;
The cowslip startles in meadows green,

The buttercup catches the sun in its chalice,
And there's never a leaf nor a blade too mean
To be some happy creature's palace;

The little bird sits at his door in the sun,
Atilt like a blossom among the leaves,

And lets his illumined being o'errun

With the deluge of summer it receives; His mate feels the eggs beneath her wings, And the heart in her dumb breast flutters and sings; He sings to the wide world and she to her nest,— In the nice ear of Nature which song is the best?

Now is the high-tide of the year,

And whatever of life hath ebbed away Comes flooding back with a ripply cheer,

Into every bare inlet and creek and bay; Now the heart is so full that a drop overfills it, We are happy now because God wills it; No matter how barren the past may have been, 'Tis enough for us now that the leaves are green; We sit in the warm shade and feel right well How the sap creeps up and the blossoms swell; We may shut our eyes, but we cannot help knowing

That skies are clear and grass is growing;

The breeze comes whispering in our ear,
That dandelions are blossoming near,

That maize has sprouted, that streams are flowing,


That the river is bluer than the sky,

That the robin is plastering his house hard by;
And if the breeze kept the good news back,
For other couriers we should not lack;

We could guess it all by yon heifer's lowing,
And hark! how clear bold chanticleer,
Warmed with the new wine of the year,

Tells all in his lusty crowing!


James Russell Lowell [1819-1891]


WHEN the bubble moon is young,
Down the sources of the breeze,
Like a yellow lantern hung

In the tops of blackened trees,
There is promise she will grow
Into beauty unforetold,
Into all unthought-of gold.
Heigh ho!

When the Spring has dipped her foot,

Like a bather, in the air,
And the ripples warm the root

Till the little flowers dare,
There is promise she will grow
Sweeter than the Springs of old,
Fairer than was ever told.
Heigh ho!

But the moon of middle night,

Risen, is the rounded moon;
And the Spring of budding light
Eddies into just a June.
Ah, the promise-was it so?
Nay, the gift was fairy gold;

All the new is over-old.

Heigh ho!

Harrison Smith Morris [1856


SWEET, sweet, sweet,
Is the wind's song,

Astir in the rippled wheat
Ail day long,

It hath the brook's wild gayety,
The sorrowful cry of the sea.
Oh, hush and hear!

Sweet, sweet and clear,

Above the locust's whirr

And hum of bee

Rises that soft, pathetic harmony.

In the meadow-grass

The innocent white daisies blow,

The dandelion plume doth pass
Vaguely to and fro,-

The unquiet spirit of a flower
That hath too brief an hour.

[blocks in formation]

And now on the horizon line,

Where dusky woodlands lie,

A sunny mist doth shine,

Like to a veil before a holy shrine,
Concealing, half-revealing, things divine.

Sweet, sweet, sweet,

Is the wind's song,

Astir in the rippled wheat

All day long.
That exquisite music calls

The reaper everywhere

Life and death must share.

The golden harvest falls.


So doth all end,

Honored Philosophy,

Science and Art,

The bloom of the heart;

Master, Consoler, Friend,

Make Thou the harvest of our days
To fall within Thy ways.

Ellen Mackay Hutchinson Cortissoz [18


MOWERS, weary and brown, and blithe,
What is the word methinks ye know,
Endless over-word that the Scythe

Sings to the blades of the grass below?
Scythes that swing in the grass and clover,
Something, still, they say as they pass;
What is the word that, over and over,
Sings the Scythe to the flowers and grass?

Hush, ah hush, the Scythes are saying,
Hush, and heed not, and fall asleep;
Hush, they say to the grasses swaying,
Hush, they sing to the clover deep!
Hush 'tis the lullaby Time is singing-
Hush, and heed not, for all things pass,

Hush, ah hush! and the Scythes are swinging
Over the clover, over the grass!


Andrew Lang [1844-1912]


SWEET is the voice that calls

From babbling waterfalls

In meadows where the downy seeds are flying;

And soft the breezes blow,

And eddying come and go,

In faded gardens where the rose is dying.

« PreviousContinue »