The Snowdrop In The Snow
O full of Faith! The Earth is rock,-the Heaven
The dome of a great palace all of ice,
Russ-built. Dull light distils through frozen skies
Thickened and gross. Cold Fancy droops her wing,
And cannot range. In winding-sheets of snow
Lies every thought of any pleasant thing.
I have forgotten the green earth; my soul
Deflowered, and lost to every summer hope,
Sad sitteth on an iceberg at the Pole;
My heart assumes the landscape of mine eyes
Moveless and white, chill blanched with hoarest rime;
The Sun himself is heavy and lacks cheer
Or on the eastern hill or western slope;
The world without seems far and long ago;
To silent woods stark famished winds have driven
The last lean robin-gibbering winds of fear!
Thou only darest to believe in spring,
Thou only smilest, Lady of the Time!
Even as the stars come up out of the sea
Thou risest from the Earth. How is it down
In the dark depths? Should I delve there, O Flower,
For beauty? Shall I find the summer there
Met manifold, as in an ark of peace?
And Thou, a lone white Dove, art thou sent forth
Upon the winter deluge? It shall cease,
But not for thee-pierced by the ruthless North
And spent with the Evangel. In what hour
The flood abates thou wilt have closed thy wings
For ever. When the happy living things
Of the old world come forth upon the new
I know my heart shall miss thee; and the dew
Of summer twilights shall shed tears for me
-Tears liker thee, ah, purest! than mine own-
Upon thy vestal grave, O vainly fair!
Thou should'st have noble destiny, who, like
A Prophet, art shut out from kind and kin:
Who on the winter silence comest in
A still small voice. Pale Hermit of the Year,
Flower of the Wilderness! oh, not for thee
The jocund playmates of the maiden spring.
For when she danceth forth with cymballed feet,
Waking a-sudden with great welcoming,
Each calling each, they burst from hill to dell
In answering music. But thou art a bell,
A passing bell, snow-muffled, dim and sweet.
As is the Poet to his fellow-men,
So mid thy drifting snows, O Snowdrop, Thou.
Gifted, in sooth, beyond them, but no less
A snowdrop. And thou shalt complete his lot
And bloom as fair as now when they are not.
Thou art the wonder of the seasons, O
First-born of Beauty. As the Angel near
Gazed on that first of living things which, when
The blast that ruled since Chaos o'er the sere
Leaves of primeval Palms did sweep the plain,
Clung to the new-made sod and would not drive,
So gaze I upon thee amid the reign
Of Winter. And because thou livest, I live.
And art thou happy in thy loneliness?
Oh couldst thou hear the shouting of the floods,
Oh couldst thou know the stir among the trees
When-as the herald-voice of breeze on breeze
Proclaims the marriage pageant of the Spring
Advancing from the South-each hurries on
His wedding-garment, and the love-chimes ring
Thro' nuptial valleys! No, serene and lone,
I will not flush thy cheek with joys like these.
Songs for the rosy morning; at grey prime
To hang the head and pray. Thou doest well.
I will not tell thee of the bridal train.
No; let thy Moonlight die before their day
A Nun among the Maidens, thou and they.
Each hath some fond sweet office that doth strike
One of our trembling heartstrings musical.
Is not the hawthorn for the Queen of May?
And cuckoo-flowers for whom the cuckoo's voice
Hails, like an answering sister, to the woods?
Is not the maiden blushing in the rose?
Shall not the babe and buttercup rejoice,
Twins in one meadow! Are not violets all
By name or nature for the breast of Dames?
For them the primrose, pale as star of prime,
For them the wind-flower, trembling to a sigh,
For them the dew stands in the eyes of day
That blink in April on the daisied lea?
Like them they flourish and like them they fade,
And live beloved and loving. But for thee-
For such a bevy how art thou arrayed,
Flower of the Tempests? What hast thou with them?
Thou shalt be pearl unto a diadem
Which the Heavens jewel. They shall deck the brows
Of joy and wither there. But thou shalt be
A Martyr's garland. Thou who, undismayed,
To thy spring dreams art true amid the snows
As he to better dreams amid the flames.
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