June -

Now summer is in flower, and Nature's hum
Is never silent round her bounteous bloom;
Insects, as small as dust, have never done
With glitt'ring dance, and reeling in the sun;
And green wood-fly, and blossom-haunting bee,
Are never weary of their melody.
Round field and hedge, flowers in full glory twine,
Large bind-weed bells, wild hop, and streak'd woodbine,
That lift athirst their slender-throated flowers,
Agape for dew-falls, and for honey showers;
These o'er each bush in sweet disorder run,
And spread their wild hues to the sultry sun.
The mottled spider, at eve's leisure, weaves
His webs of silken lace on twigs and leaves,
Which ev'ry morning meet the poet's eye,
Like fairies' dew-wet dresses hung to dry.
The wheat swells into ear, and hides below
The May-month wild flowers and their gaudy show,

Leaving, a school-boy's height, in snugger rest,
The leveret's seat, and lark, and partridge nest.

The mowers now bend o'er the beaded grass,
Where oft the gipsy's hungry journeying ass
Will turn his wishes from the meadow paths,
List'ning the rustle of the falling swaths.
The ploughman sweats along the fallow vales,
And down the sun-crack'd furrow slowly trails;
Oft seeking, when athirst, the brook's supply,
Where, brushing eagerly the bushes by
For coolest water, he disturbs the rest
Of ring-dove, brooding o'er its idle nest.

The shepherd's leisure hours are over now;
No more he loiters 'neath the hedge-row bough,
On shadow-pillowed banks and lolling stile;
The wilds must lose their summer friend awhile.
With whistle, barking dogs, and chiding scold,
He drives the bleating sheep from fallow fold
To wash-pools, where the willow shadows lean,
Dashing them in, their stained coats to clean;
Then, on the sunny sward, when dry again,
He brings them homeward to the clipping pen,
Of hurdles form'd, where elm or sycamore
Shut out the sun — or to some threshing-floor.
There with the scraps of songs, and laugh, and tale,
He lightens annual toil, while merry ale
Goes round, and glads some old man's heart to praise
The threadbare customs of his early days:

How the high bowl was in the middle set
At breakfast time, when clippers yearly met,
Fill'd full of furmety, where dainty swum
The streaking sugar and the spotting plum.
The maids could never to the table bring
The bowl, without one rising from the ring
To lend a hand; who, if 'twere ta'en amiss,
Would sell his kindness for a stolen kiss.
The large stone pitcher in its homely trim,
And clouded pint-horn with its copper rim,
Were there; from which were drunk, with spirits high,
Healths of the best the cellar could supply;
While sung the ancient swains, in uncouth rhymes,
Songs that were pictures of the good old times.

Thus will the old man ancient ways bewail,
Till toiling shears gain ground upon the tale,
And break it off — for now the timid sheep,
His fleece shorn off, starts with a fearful leap,

Shaking his naked skin with wond'ring joys,
While others are brought in by sturdy boys.

Though fashion's haughty frown hath thrown aside
Half the old forms simplicity supplied,
Yet there are some pride's winter deigns to spare,
Left like green ivy when the trees are bare.
And now, when shearing of the flocks is done,
Some ancient customs, mix'd with harmless fun,
Crown the swain's merry toils. The timid maid,
Pleased to be praised, and yet of praise afraid,
Seeks the best flowers; not those of woods and fields,
But such as every farmer's garden yields —
Fine cabbage-roses, painted like her face;
The shining pansy, trim'd with golden lace;
The tall topp'd larkheels, feather'd thick with flowers;
The woodbine, climbing o'er the door in bowers;
The London tufts, of many a mottled hue;
The pale pink pea, and monkshood darkly blue;
The white and purple gilliflowers, that stay
Ling'ring, in blossom, summer half away;
The single blood-walls, of a luscious smell,
Old-fashion'd flowers which housewives love so well;
The columbines, stone-blue, or deep night-brown,
Their honeycomb-like blossoms hanging down,
Each cottage-garden's fond adopted child,
Though heaths still claim them, where they yet grow wild;

With marjoram knots, sweet-brier, and ribbon-grass,
And lavender, the choice of ev'ry lass,
And sprigs of lad's-love — all familiar names,
Which every garden through the village claims.
These the maid gathers with a coy delight,
And ties them up, in readiness for night;
Then gives to ev'ry swain, 'tween love and shame,
Her " clipping posies " as his yearly claim.
He rises, to obtain the custom'd kiss: —
With stifled smiles, half hankering after bliss,
She shrinks away, and blushing, calls it rude;
Yet turns to smile, and hopes to be pursued;
While one, to whom the hint may be applied,
Follows to claim it, and is not denied.

The rest the loud laugh raise, to make it known, —
She blushes silent, and will not disown!
Thus ale, and song, and healths, and merry ways,
Keep up a shadow still of former days;
But the old beechen bowl, that once supplied
The feast of furmety, is thrown aside;
And the old freedom that was living then,
When masters made them merry with their men;
When all their coats alike were russet brown,
And his rude speech was vulgar as their own —

All this is past, and soon may pass away
The time-torn remnant of the holiday.
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