Echoes Of Spring

I.
I WALK about in driving snow,
And drizzling rain, splashed o'er and o'er;
No sign that radiant spring e'en now
Stands at the threshold of the door.

No sign that fragrant violets burn
To burst the ground and quicken forth;
No sign that swallow flights return,
To gladden all the serious north.

But in my breast--what flutterings here!
What bursts of song! what twitt'rings blest!
Sure the first swallow of the year
Within my heart has built her nest.


II.
Oft on the gleaming April days,
When skies are soft, and winds are warm,
And in the air a subtle charm,
And on the hill a flight of rays;

When silver clouds slide through the blue,
Spreading a pure, transparent wing,
And all the budding branches ring
With blithesome birds, that warbling woo;

Beneath a pear tree's shade I lay,
Deep bedded in the long thick grass,
And heard the twitt'ring swallow pass,
And grasshoppers at endless play.

I knew, though flowers mine eyes did screen,
That butterflies danced in the light;
For, breaking sunbeams in their flight,
They flashed their shadows on the green.

And gazing up, in dreamful ease,
Where quiv'ring frail on shivery sprays,
The blossoms mix a milky maze,
What hum of golden-girted bees!

So lily-white, the tree, behold,
Seems set on fire by burnished lights,
And shoal on honeying shoal alights,
And turns the snowy boughs to gold.

Thus on my spirit--music-fraught,
Burst swarms of glimm'ring melodies,
And like the yellow-banded bees,
Make honey of my flutt'ring thought.


III.
Sometimes on my soul will throng
Such a blossom-burst of song,
That I cannot seize it all,
Letting sweetest measures fall.

Thus a child feels--sudden sunk
On a crowding violet bank,
And delighted and amazed,
Gathers in a flush├Ęd haste.

Gathers them so fast and fleet,
Little fingers cannot meet
O'er the lot; and swifter still
Than they cull, the wealth they spill.

To that sweets o'erflooded nook,
Casting back one longing look,
At the last it takes away
But one little odorous spray.

Yet through many a day and night,
Flinging back the fragrant sight,
Cleaves to face, and hands, and feet,
All the woodland's violets sweet.


IV.
Fain would I sing of each sweet sight and sound,
Of fleeting odours wheeling round and round,
Of sunbeams dancing on the virgin grass,
Of flocks of fleecy clouds that glimmer as they pass.

Of larks, that lost in the blue ether float,
Of the weird blackbird's dream--enchanted note!
While the glad hedges palpitate with song,
That drops like murm'ring rain the dewy fields among.

Of blooming bushes and of budding trees,
Of flaming flowers, dotting the grassy leas,
Of glowing pools and of the babbling rills,
That flash through azure mists, slumb'ring on folded hills.

Fain would I sing, sweet April-time, of thee,
And mingle in thy wantonness of glee;
But thou such overwealth of sweets dost fling,
My heart is all too full, too full to speak or sing.


V.
There's somewhat in the loveliness of spring,
In the young light, and in the fragrant bloom,
In the sweet song that each soft breeze doth wing,
In the bright flowers that rise from earth's dark womb;

Which fills with sadness the presentient mind,
And for a far-off home awakes the sigh;
Which makes us gaze, with longings undefined,
On dim blue hills, and weep--we know not why.


VI.
Oh, birds, winged voices! children of the light!
Whose song is love, whose love is melody;
Shedding o'er hedge, and field, and bush, and tree,
Your tuneful joy and musical delight,

Making the air, the earth, the heavens bright;
Melodious, tender, sad and gay and free;
By all these gifts true poets born are ye;
Love circumscribes alone your restless flight.

Poets, I say? Ah, not like poets here,
That wander forth alone, companionless;
Whose lays are wrung from them by care and pain;
Who sing, while blinded by the hot salt tear.

Not such are ye; but free from all distress,
Ye, with the sunlight, range o'er land and main.


VII.
Oh, soft sweet air of early spring,
Again thou float'st on viewless wing,
Coax'st snowdrops their white bells to ring,
And wak'st the blackbird up to sing.

Again, upon the bright'ning lea,
Beneath the budding bursting tree,
The toddling baby-mites I see,
Skip, jump, and frisk in lamb-like glee.

But I am sad, I know not why;
My breast heaves with the long-drawn sigh;
The tear rounds slowly in mine eye;
I'd like to lay me down and die.


VIII.
The blooming hedge, the budding grove,
Resound with notes of joy and love;
The gleaming bush, the glimm'ring tree,
Live with a dewy melody.

Along the meadows, flashing bright,
Run trills of shrill and sweet delight;
E'en the small snowy clouds among,
Gush showers on showers of silver song.
But thou, my heart, oh, tell me why
Hast thou no language but a sigh?


IX.
Like a flower-fall of rain,
Like a snowy elfin train,
Like stray gleams of moonlight fair,
Do you shift upon the air,
Do you flutter on the breeze,
Do you fall upon the leas,
Blossoms of the apple-trees;
Then on earth's bosom slow ye fade away,
Like to a low and sweetly dying lay.


X.
With thousand gaps the earth is split,
By sunbeams wounded o'er and o'er,
My heart, it acheth bit by bit;
Life's heat and dust have made it sore.

When wilt thou fall from clouds above,
In silver showers, refreshing rain?
When wilt thou come, reviving love,
With dew, and make me whole again?

A little while, big drops will slake,
Oh, earth, thy thirst's hot agony;
But till my fevered heart doth break,
Will solace ever come to me?

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