And in the rich store of their blossoms glowing Ten for one I take they're on me bestowing: Oh, I should like to see, if God's will it may be, Many, many a summer of my green things growing!
But if I must be gathered for the angel's sowing, Sleep out of sight awhile, like the green things growing, Though dust to dust return, I think I'll scarcely mourn, If I may change into green things growing.
Dinah Maria Mulock Craik [1826-1887]
A CHANTED CALENDAR From "Balder"
First came the primrose, On the bank high, Like a maiden looking forth From the window of a tower When the battle rolls below, So looked she, And saw the storms go by.
Then came the wind-flower In the valley left behind, As a wounded maiden, pale With purple streaks of woe, When the battle has rolled by Wanders to and fro, So tottered she, Dishevelled in the wind.
Then came the daisies, On the first of May, Like a bannered show's advance While the crowd runs by the way, With ten thousand flowers about them they came trooping through the fields.
As a happy people come, So came they, As a happy people come When the war has rolled away, With dance and tabor, pipe and drum, And all make holiday.
Then came the cowslip, Like a dancer in the fair, She spread her little mat of green, And on it danced she. With a fillet bound about her brow, A fillet round her happy brow, A golden fillet round her brow, And rubies in her hair.
Sydney Dobell [1824-1874]
Spare full well, in language quaint and olden One who dwelleth by the castled Rhine, When he called the flowers, so blue and golden, Stars, that in earth's firmament do shine.
Stars they are, wherein we read our history, As astrologers and seers of eld; Yet not wrapped about with awful mystery, Like the burning stars, which they beheld.
Wondrous truths, and manifold as wondrous, God hath written in those stars above; But not less in the bright flowerets under us Stands the revelation of his love.
Bright and glorious is that revelation, Writ all over this great world of ours; Making evident our own creation, In these stars of earth, these golden flowers.
And the Poet, faithful and far-seeing, See, alike in stars and flowers, a part Of the self-same, universal being, Which is throbbing in his brain and heart.
Gorgeous flowerets in the sunlight shining, Blossoms flaunting in the eye of day, Tremulous leaves, with soft and silver lining, Buds that open only to decay;
Brilliant hopes, all woven in gorgeous tissues, Flaunting gayly in the golden light; Large desires, with most uncertain issues, Tender wishes, blossoming at night!
These in flowers and men are more than seeming; Workings are they of the self-same powers Which the Poet, in no idle dreaming, Seeth in himself and in the flowers.
Everywhere about us are they glowing, Some like stars, to tell us Spring is born; Others, their blue eyes with tears o'erflowing, Stand like Ruth amid the golden corn;
Not alone in Spring's armorial bearing, And in Summer's green-emblazoned field, But in arms of brave old Autumn's wearing, In the centre of his brazen shield;
Not alone in meadows and green alleys, On the mountain-top, and by the brink Of sequestered pools in woodland valleys, Where the slaves of nature stoop to drink;
Not alone in her vast dome of glory, Not on graves of bird and beast alone, But in old cathedrals, high and hoary, On the tombs of heroes, carved in stone;
In the cottage of the rudest peasant; In ancestral homes, whose crumbling towers, Speaking of the Past unto the Present, Tell us of the ancient Games of Flowers;
In all places, then, and in all seasons, Flowers expand their light and soul-like wings, Teaching us, by most persuasive reasons, How akin they are to human things.
And with childlike, credulous affection, We behold their tender buds expand; Emblems of our own great resurrection, Emblems of the bright and better land.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow [1807-1882]
I will not have the mad Clytie, Whose head is turned by the sun; The tulip is a courtly quean, Whom, therefore, I will shun: The cowslip is a country wench, The violet is a nun;— But I will woo the dainty rose, The queen of every one.
The pea is but a wanton witch, In too much haste to wed, And clasps her rings on every hand; The wolfsbane I should dread; Nor will I dreary rosemarye, That always mourns the dead; But I will woo the dainty rose, With her cheeks of tender red.
The lily is all in white, like a saint, And so is no mate for me; And the daisy's cheek is tipped with a blush, She is of such low degree; Jasmine is sweet, and has many loves, And the broom's betrothed to the bee;— But I will plight with the dainty rose, For fairest of all is she.
Thomas Hood [1799-1845]
A CONTEMPLATION UPON FLOWERS
Brave flowers—that I could gallant it like you, And be as little vain! You come abroad, and make a harmless show, And to your beds of earth again. You are not proud: you know your birth: For your embroidered garments are from earth.
You do obey your months and times, but I Would have it ever Spring: My fate would know no Winter, never die, Nor think of such a thing. O that I could my bed of earth but view And smile, and look as cheerfully as you!
O teach me to see Death and not to fear, But rather to take truce! How often have I seen you at a bier, And there look fresh and spruce! You fragrant flowers! then teach me, that my breath Like yours may sweeten and perfume my death.
(?) Henry King [1592-1669]
Blossom of the almond trees, April's gift to April's bees, Birthday ornament of Spring, Flora's fairest daughterling; Coming when no flowerets dare Trust the cruel outer air; When the royal kingcup bold Dares not don his coat of gold; And the sturdy black-thorn spray Keeps his silver for the May;— Coming when no flowerets would, Save thy lowly sisterhood, Early violets; blue and white, Dying for their love of light;— Almond blossom, sent to teach us That the spring days soon will reach us, Lest, with longing over-tried, We die, as the violets died;— Blossom, clouding all the tree With thy crimson broidery, Long before a leaf of green On the bravest bough is seen;— Ah! when winter winds are swinging All thy red bells into ringing, With a bee in every bell, Almond bloom, we greet thee well.
Edwin Arnold [1832-1904]
Azaleas—whitest of white! White as the drifted snow Fresh-fallen out of the night, Before the coming glow. Tinges the morning light; When the light is like the snow, White, And the silence is like the light: Light, and silence, and snow,— All—white!
White! not a hint Of the creamy tint A rose will hold, The whitest rose, in its inmost fold; Not a possible blush; White as an embodied hush; A very rapture of white; A wedlock Of silence and light: White, white as the wonder undefiled Of Eve just wakened in Paradise; Nay, white as the angel of a child That looks into God's own eyes!
Harriet McEwen Kimball [1834-1917]
There must be fairy miners Just underneath the mould, Such wondrous quaint designers Who live in caves of gold.
They take the shining metals, And beat them into shreds, And mould them into petals To make the flowers' heads.
Sometimes they melt the flowers To tiny seeds like pearls, And store them up in bowers For little boys and girls.
And still a tiny fan turns Above a forge of gold, To keep, with fairy lanterns, The world from growing old.
Wilfrid Thorley [1878-
THE BROOM FLOWER
Oh the Broom, the yellow Broom, The ancient poet sung it, And dear it is on summer days To lie at rest among it.
I know the realms where people say The flowers have not their fellow; I know where they shine out like suns, The crimson and the yellow.
I know where ladies live enchained In luxury's silken fetters, And flowers as bright as glittering gems Are used for written letters.
But ne'er was flower so fair as this, In modern days or olden; It groweth on its nodding stem Like to a garland golden.
And all about my mother's door Shine out its glittering bushes, And down the glen, where clear as light The mountain-water gushes.
Take all the rest; but give me this, And the bird that nestles in it; I love it, for it loves the Broom— The green and yellow linnet.
Well call the rose the queen of flowers, And boast of that of Sharon, Of lilies like to marble cups, And the golden rod of Aaron:
I care not how these flowers may be Beloved of man and woman; The Broom it is the flower for me, That groweth on the common.
Oh the Broom, the yellow Broom, The ancient poet sung it, And dear it is on summer days To lie at rest among it.
Mary Howitt [1799-1888]
THE SMALL CELANDINE
There is a Flower, the lesser Celandine, That shrinks, like many more, from cold and rain; And, the first moment that the sun may shine, Bright as the sun himself, 'tis out again!
When hailstones have been falling, swarm on swarm, Or blasts the green field and the trees distressed, Oft have I seen it muffled up from harm, In close self-shelter, like a thing at rest.
But lately, one rough day, this Flower I passed And recognized it, though an altered form, Now standing forth an offering to the blast, And buffeted at will by rain and storm.
I stopped, and said with inly-muttered voice, "It doth not love the shower, nor seek the cold: This neither is its courage, nor its choice, But its necessity in being old.
"The sunshine may not cheer it, nor the dew; It cannot help itself in its decay; Stiff in its members, withered, changed of hue." And, in my spleen, I smiled that it was gray.
To be a Prodigal's Favorite—then, worse truth, A Miser's Pensioner—behold our lot! O Man, that from thy fair and shining youth Age might but take the things Youth needed not!
William Wordsworth [1770-1850]
TO THE SMALL CELANDINE
Pansies, lilies, kingcups, daisies, Let them live upon their praises; Long as there's a sun that sets, Primroses will have their glory; Long as there are violets, They will have a place in story: There's a flower that shall be mine, 'Tis the little Celandine.
Eyes of some men travel far For the finding of a star; Up and down the heavens they go, Men that keep a mighty rout! I'm as great as them, I trow, Since the day I found thee out. Little Flower!—I'll make a stir, Like a sage astronomer.
Modest, yet withal an Elf Bold, and lavish of thyself; Since we needs must first have met, I have seen thee, high and low, Thirty years or more, and yet 'Twas a face I did not know; Thou hast now, go where I may, Fifty greetings in a day.
Ere a leaf is on a bush, In the time before the thrush Has a thought about her nest, Thou wilt come with half a call, Spreading out thy glossy breast Like a careless Prodigal; Telling tales about the sun, When we've little warmth, or none.
Poets, vain men in their mood! Travel with the multitude: Never heed them; I aver That they all are wanton wooers; But the thrifty cottager, Who stirs little out of doors, Joys to spy thee near her home; Spring is coming, Thou art come!
Comfort have thou of thy merit, Kindly, unassuming Spirit! Careless of thy neighborhood, Thou dost show thy pleasant face On the moor, and in the wood, In the lane;—there's not a place, Howsoever mean it be, But 'tis good enough for thee.
Ill befall the yellow flowers, Children of the flaring hours! Buttercups, that will be seen, Whether we will see or no; Others, too, of lofty mien; They have done as worldings do, Taken praise that should be thine, Little, humble Celandine!
Prophet of delight and mirth, Ill-requited upon earth; Herald of a mighty band, Of a joyous train ensuing, Serving at my heart's command, Tasks that are no tasks renewing, I will sing, as dost behove, Hymns in praise of what I love!
William Wordsworth [1770-1850]
I know a place where the sun is like gold, And the cherry blossoms burst with snow, And down underneath is the loveliest nook, Where the four-leaf clovers grow.
One leaf is for hope, and one is for faith, And one is for love, you know, And God put another in for luck,— If you search, you will find where they grow.
But you must have hope, and you must have faith, You must love and be strong—and so, If you work, if you wait, you will find the place Where the four-leaf clovers grow.
Ella Higginson [1862-
Within what weeks the melilot Gave forth its fragrance, I, a lad, Or never knew or quite forgot, Save that 'twas while the year is glad.
Now know I that in bright July It blossoms; and the perfume fine Brings back my boyhood, until I Am steeped in memory as with wine.
Now know I that the whole year long, Though Winter chills or Summer cheers, It writes along the weeks its song, Even as my youth sings through my years.
Wallace Rice [1859-
"I WANDERED LONELY AS A CLOUD"
I wandered lonely as a cloud That floats on high o'er vales and hills, When all at once I saw a crowd, A host, of golden daffodils; Beside the lake, beneath the trees, Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.
Continuous as the stars that shine And twinkle in the milky way, They stretched in never-ending line Along the margin of a bay: Ten thousand saw I at a glance, Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.
The waves beside them danced; but they Out-did the sparkling waves in glee: A poet could not but be gay, In such a jocund company: I gazed—and gazed—but little thought What wealth the show to me had brought:
For oft, when on my couch I lie In vacant or in pensive mood, They flash upon that inward eye Which is the bliss of solitude; And then my heart with pleasure fills, And dances with the daffodils.
William Wordsworth [1770-1850]
Fair Daffodils, we weep to see You haste away so soon; As yet the early-rising sun Has not attained his noon. Stay, stay, Until the hasting day Has run But to the even-song; And, having prayed together, we Will go with you along.
We have short time to stay as you, We have as short a spring; As quick a growth to meet decay, As you, or any thing. We die As your hours do, and dry Away, Like to the summer's rain; Or as the pearls of morning's dew, Ne'er to be found again.
Robert Herrick [1591-1674]
TO A MOUNTAIN DAISY On Turing One Down With The Plough, In April 1786
Wee, modest, crimson-tipped flower, Thou's met me in an evil hour; For I maun crush amang the stoure Thy slender stem: To spare thee now is past my power, Thou bonny gem.
Alas! it's no thy neibor sweet, The bonny lark, companion meet, Bending thee 'mang the dewy weet, Wi' speckled breast, When upward-springing, blithe, to greet The purpling east!
Cauld blew the bitter-biting north Upon thy early, humble birth; Yet cheerfully thou glinted forth Amid the storm, Scarce reared above the parent earth Thy tender form.
The flaunting flowers our gardens yield High sheltering woods and wa's maun shield; But thou, beneath the random bield O' clod, or stane, Adorns the histie stibble-fleld, Unseen, alane.
There, in thy scanty mantle clad, Thy snawie bosom sunward spread, Thou lifts thy unassuming head In humble guise; But now the share uptears thy bed, And low thou lies!
Such is the fate of artless maid, Sweet floweret of the rural shade! By love's simplicity betrayed, And guileless trust, Till she, like thee, all soiled, is laid Low i' the dust.
Such is the fate of simple bard, On life's rough ocean luckless starred! Unskillful he to note the card Of prudent lore, Till billows rage, and gales blow hard, And whelm him o'er!
Such fate to suffering worth is given, Who long with wants and woes has striven, By human pride or cunning driven To misery's brink, Till, wrenched of every stay but Heaven, He, ruined, sink!
Even thou who mourn'st the Daisy's fate, That fate is thine—no distant date; Stern Ruin's ploughshare drives, elate, Full on thy bloom, Till crushed beneath the furrow's weight Shall be thy doom.
Robert Burns [1759-1796]
A FIELD FLOWER
There is a flower, a little flower With silver crest and golden eye, That welcomes every changing hour, And weathers every sky.
The prouder beauties of the field In gay but quick succession shine; Race after race their honors yield, They flourish and decline.
But this small flower, to Nature dear, While moons and stars their courses run, Wreathes the whole circle of the year, Companion of the Sun.
It smiles upon the lap of May, To sultry August spreads its charms, Lights pale October on his way, And twines December's arms.
The purple heath and golden broom On moory mountains catch the gale; O'er lawns the lily sheds perfume, The violet in the vale.
But this bold floweret climbs the hill, Hides in the forest, haunts the glen, Plays on the margin of the rill, Peeps round the fox's den.
Within the garden's cultured round It shares the sweet carnation's bed; And blooms on consecrated ground In honor of the dead.
The lambkin crops its crimson gem; The wild bee murmurs on its breast; The blue-fly bends its pensile stem Light o'er the skylark's nest.
'Tis Flora's page,—in every place, In every season, fresh and fair; It opens with perennial grace, And blossoms everywhere.
On waste and woodland, rock and plain, Its humble buds unheeded rise; The Rose has but a summer reign; The Daisy never dies!
James Montgomery [1771-1854]
TO DAISIES, NOT TO SHUT SO SOON
Shut not so soon; the dull-eyed night Has not as yet begun To make a seizure on the light, Or to seal up the sun.
No marigolds yet closed are, No shadows great appear; Nor doth the early shepherd's star Shine like a spangle here.
Stay but till my Julia close Her life-begetting eye, And let the whole world then dispose Itself to live or die.
Robert Herrick [1591-1674]
Over the shoulders and slopes of the dune I saw the white daisies go down to the sea, A host in the sunshine, an army in June, The people God sends us to set our heart free.
The bobolinks rallied them up from the dell, The orioles whistled them out of the wood; And all of their saying was, "Earth, it is well!" And all of their dancing was, "Life, thou art good!"
Bliss Carman [1861-1929]
TO THE DAISY
With little here to do or see Of things that in the great world be, Daisy! again I talk to thee, For thou art worthy: Thou unassuming common-place Of Nature, with that homely face, And yet with something of a grace, Which love makes for thee!
Oft on the dappled turf at ease, I sit, and play with similes, Loose types of things through all degrees, Thoughts of thy raising: And many a fond and idle name I give to thee, for praise or blame, As is the humor of the game, While I am gazing.
A nun demure, of lowly port; Or sprightly maiden of love's court, In thy simplicity the sport Of all temptations; A queen in crown of rubies dressed A starveling in a scanty vest; Are all, as seem to suit thee best, Thy appellations.
A little Cyclops, with one eye Staring to threaten and defy— That thought comes next—and instantly The freak is over. The shape will vanish,—and behold! A silver shield with boss of gold, That spreads itself, some fairy bold In fight to cover.
I see thee glittering from afar;— And then thou art a pretty star; Not quite so fair as many are In heaven above thee! Yet like a star, with glittering crest, Self-poised in air, thou seem'st to rest;— May peace come never to his nest Who shall reprove thee!
Bright Flower! for by that name at last, When all my reveries are past, I call thee, and to that cleave fast, Sweet silent creature! That breath'st with me in sun and air, Do thou, as thou art wont, repair My heart with gladness, and a share Of thy meek nature!
William Wordsworth [1770-1850]
Ah, drops of gold in whitening flame Burning, we know your lovely name— Daisies, that little children pull! Like all weak things, over the strong Ye do not know your power for wrong, And much abuse your feebleness. Daisies, that little children pull, As ye are weak, be merciful! O hide your eyes! they are to me Beautiful insupportably. Or be but conscious ye are fair, And I your loveliness could bear, But, being fair so without art, Ye vex the silted memories of my heart!
As a pale ghost yearning strays With sundered gaze, 'Mid corporal presences that are To it impalpable—such a bar Sets you more distant than the morning-star. Such wonder is on you, and amaze, I look and marvel if I be Indeed the phantom, or are ye? The light is on your innocence Which fell from me. The fields ye still inhabit whence My world-acquainted treading strays, The country where I did commence; And though ye shine to me so near, So close to gross and visible sense,— Between us lies impassable year on year.
To other time and far-off place Belongs your beauty: silent thus, Though to other naught you tell, To me your ranks are rumorous Of an ancient miracle. Vain does my touch your petals graze, I touch you not; and though ye blossom here, Your roots are fast in alienated days. Ye there are anchored, while Time's stream Has swept me past them: your white ways And infantile delights do seem To look in on me like a face, Dead and sweet, come back through dream, With tears, because for old embrace It has no arms.
These hands did toy, Children, with you, when I was child, And in each other's eyes we smiled: Not yours, not yours the grievous-fair Apparelling With which you wet mine eyes; you wear, Ah me, the garment of the grace I wove you when I was a boy; O mine, and not the year's your stolen Spring! And since ye wear it, Hide your sweet selves! I cannot bear it. For when ye break the cloven earth With your young laughter and endearment, No blossomy carillon 'tis of mirth To me; I see my slaughtered joy Bursting its cerement.
Francis Thompson [1859?-1907]
TO THE DANDELION
Dear common flower, that grow'st beside the way, Fringing the dusty road with harmless gold, First pledge of blithesome May, Which children pluck, and, full of pride, uphold, High-hearted buccaneers, o'erjoyed that they An Eldorado in the grass have found, Which not the rich earth's ample round May match in wealth, thou art more dear to me Than all the prouder summer-blooms may be.
Gold such as thine ne'er drew the Spanish prow Through the primeval hush of Indian seas, Nor wrinkled the lean brow Of age, to rob the lover's heart of ease; 'Tis the Spring's largess, which she scatters now To rich and poor alike, with lavish hand, Though most hearts never understand To take it at God's value, but pass by The offered wealth with unrewarded eye.
Thou art my tropics and mine Italy; To look at thee unlocks a warmer clime; The eyes thou givest me Are in the heart, and heed not space or time: Not in mid June the golden-cuirassed bee Feels a more summer-like warm ravishment In the white lily's breezy tent, His fragrant Sybaris, than I, when first From the dark green thy yellow circles burst.
Then think I of deep shadows on the grass, Of meadows where in sun the cattle graze, Where, as the breezes pass, The gleaming rushes lean a thousand ways, Of leaves that slumber in a cloudy mass, Or whiten in the wind, of waters blue That from the distance sparkle through Some woodland gap, and of a sky above, Where one white cloud like a stray lamb doth move.
My childhood's earliest thoughts are linked with thee; The sight of thee calls back the robin's song, Who, from the dark old tree Beside the door, sang clearly all day long, And I, secure in childish piety, Listened as if I heard an angel sing With news from heaven, which he could bring Fresh every day to my untainted ears When birds and flowers and I were happy peers.
How like a prodigal doth nature seem, When thou, for all thy gold, so common art! Thou teachest me to deem More sacredly of every human heart, Since each reflects in joy its scanty gleam Of heaven, and could some wondrous secret show, Did we but pay the love we owe, And with a child's undoubting wisdom look On all these living pages of God's book.
James Russell Lowell [1819-1891]
At dawn, when England's childish tongue Lisped happy truths, and men were young, Her Chaucer, with a gay content Hummed through the shining fields, scarce bent By poet's foot, and, plucking, set, All lusty, sunny, dewy-wet, A dandelion in his verse, Like the first gold in childhood's purse.
At noon, when harvest colors die On the pale azure of the sky, And dreams through dozing grasses creep Of winds that are themselves asleep, Rapt Shelley found the airy ghost Of that bright flower the spring loves most, And ere one silvery ray was blown From its full disk made it his own.
Now from the stubble poets glean Scant flowers of thought; the Muse would wean Her myriad nurslings, feeding them On petals plucked from a dry stem. For one small plumule still adrift, The wind-blown dandelion's gift, The fields once blossomy we scour Where the old poets plucked the flower.
Annie Rankin Annan [1848-1925]
Upon a showery night and still, Without a sound of warning, A trooper band surprised the hill, And held it in the morning.
We were not waked by bugle-notes, No cheer our dreams invaded, And yet, at dawn, their yellow coats On the green slopes paraded.
We careless folk the deed forgot; Till one day, idly walking, We marked upon the self-same spot A crowd of veterans talking.
They shook their trembling heads and gray With pride and noiseless laughter; When, well-a-day! they blew away, And ne'er were heard of after!
Helen Gray Cone [1859-1934]
TO THE FRINGED GENTIAN
Thou blossom bright with autumn dew, And colored with the heaven's own blue, That openest when the quiet light Succeeds the keen and frosty night,
Thou comest not when violets lean O'er wandering brooks and springs unseen, Or columbines, in purple dressed, Nod o'er the ground-bird's hidden nest.
Thou waitest late and com'st alone, When woods are bare and birds are flown, And frost and shortening days portend The aged year is near his end.
Then doth thy sweet and quiet eye Look through its fringes to the sky, Blue—blue—as if that sky let fall A flower from its cerulean wall.
I would that thus, when I shall see The hour of death draw near to me, Hope, blossoming within my heart, May look to heaven as I depart.
William Cullen Bryant [1794-1878]
When the wayside tangles blaze In the low September sun, When the flowers of Summer days Droop and wither, one by one, Reaching up through bush and brier, Sumptuous brow and heart of fire, Flaunting high its wind-rocked plume, Brave with wealth of native bloom,— Goldenrod!
When the meadow, lately shorn, Parched and languid, swoons with pain, When her life-blood, night and morn, Shrinks in every throbbing vein, Round her fallen, tarnished urn Leaping watch-fires brighter burn; Royal arch o'er Autumn's gate, Bending low with lustrous weight,— Goldenrod!
In the pasture's rude embrace, All o'errun with tangled vines, Where the thistle claims its place, And the straggling hedge confines, Bearing still the sweet impress Of unfettered loveliness, In the field and by the wall, Binding, clasping, crowning all,— Goldenrod!
Nature lies disheveled pale, With her feverish lips apart,— Day by day the pulses fail, Nearer to her bounding heart; Yet that slackened grasp doth hold Store of pure and genuine gold; Quick thou comest, strong and free, Type of all the wealth to be,— Goldenrod!
Elaine Goodale Eastman [1863-
LESSONS FROM THE GORSE
Mountain gorses, ever-golden, Cankered not the whole year long! Do ye teach us to be strong, Howsoever pricked and holden, Like your thorny blooms, and so Trodden on by rain and snow, Up the hill-side of this life, as bleak as where ye grow?
Mountain blossoms, shining blossoms, Do ye teach us to be glad When no summer can be had, Blooming in our inward bosoms? Ye whom God preserveth still, Set as lights upon a hill, Tokens to the wintry earth that Beauty liveth still!
Mountain gorses, do ye teach us From that academic chair Canopied with azure air, That the wisest word man reaches Is the humblest he can speak? Ye, who live on mountain peak, Yet live low along the ground, beside the grasses meek!
Mountain gorses, since Linnaeus Knelt beside you on the sod, For your beauty thanking God,— For your teaching, ye should see us Bowing in prostration new! Whence arisen,—if one or two Drops be on our cheeks—O world, they are not tears but dew.
Elizabeth Barrett Browning [1806-1861]
THE VOICE OF THE GRASS
Here I come creeping, creeping everywhere; By the dusty roadside, On the sunny hillside, Close by the noisy brook, In every shady nook, I come creeping, creeping everywhere.
Here I come creeping, smiling everywhere; All round the open door, Where here sit the aged poor; Here where the children play, In the bright and merry May, I come creeping, creeping everywhere.
Here I come creeping, creeping everywhere; In the noisy city street My pleasant face you'll meet, Cheering the sick at heart Toiling his busy part,— Silently creeping, creeping everywhere.
Here I come creeping, creeping everywhere; You cannot see me coming, Nor hear my low sweet humming; For in the starry night, And the glad morning light, I come quietly creeping everywhere.
Here I come creeping, creeping everywhere; More welcome than the flowers In summer's pleasant hours; The gentle cow is glad, And the merry bird not sad, To see me creeping, creeping everywhere.
Here I come creeping, creeping everywhere; When you're numbered with the dead In your still and narrow bed, In the happy spring I'll come And deck your silent home,— Creeping, silently creeping everywhere.
Here I come creeping, creeping everywhere; My humble song of praise Most joyfully I raise To Him at whose command I beautify the land, Creeping, silently creeping everywhere.
Sarah Roberts Boyle [1812-1869]
A SONG THE GRASS SINGS
The violet is much too shy, The rose too little so; I think I'll ask the buttercup If I may be her beau.
When winds go by, I'll nod to her And she will nod to me, And I will kiss her on the cheek As gently as may be.
And when the mower cuts us down, Together we will pass, I smiling at the buttercup, She smiling at the grass.
Charles G. Blanden [1857-
THE WILD HONEYSUCKLE
Fair flower, that dost so comely grow, Hid in this silent, dull retreat, Untouched thy honied blossoms blow, Unseen thy little branches greet: No roving foot shall crush thee here, No busy hand provoke a tear.
By Nature's self in white arrayed, She bade thee shun the vulgar eye, And planted here the guardian shade, And sent soft waters murmuring by; Thus quietly thy summer goes, Thy days declining to repose.
Smit with those charms, that must decay, I grieve to see your future doom; They died—nor were those flowers more gay, The flowers that did in Eden bloom; Unpitying frosts and Autumn's power Shall leave no vestige of this flower.
From morning suns and evening dews At first thy little being came; If nothing once, you nothing lose, For when you die you are the same; The space between is but an hour, The frail duration of a flower.
Philip Freneau [1752-1832]
THE IVY GREEN
Oh, a dainty plant is the Ivy green, That creepeth o'er ruins old! Of right choice food are his meals I ween, In his cell so lone and cold. The wall must be crumbled, the stone decayed, To pleasure his dainty whim; And the mouldering dust that years have made Is a merry meal for him. Creeping where no life is seen, A rare old plant is the Ivy green.
Fast he stealeth on, though he wears no wings, And a staunch old heart has he. How closely he twineth, how tight he clings To his friend the huge Oak Tree! And slily he traileth along the ground, And his leaves he gently waves, As he joyously hugs and crawleth round The rich mould of dead men's graves. Creeping where grim death has been, A rare old plant is the Ivy green.
Whole ages have fled and their works decayed, And nations have scattered been; But the stout old Ivy shall never fade, From its hale and hearty green. The brave old plant, in its lonely days, Shall fatten upon the past: For the stateliest building man can raise Is the Ivy's food at last. Creeping on, where time has been, A rare old plant is the Ivy green.
Charles Dickens [1812-1870]
In tangled wreaths, in clustered gleaming stars, In floating, curling sprays, The golden flower comes shining through the woods These February days; Forth go all hearts, all hands, from out the town, To bring her gayly in, This wild, sweet Princess of far Florida— The yellow jessamine.
The live-oaks smile to see her lovely face Peep from the thickets; shy, She hides behind the leaves her golden buds Till, bolder grown, on high She curls a tendril, throws a spray, then flings Herself aloft in glee, And, bursting into thousand blossoms, swings In wreaths from tree to tree.
The dwarf-palmetto on his knees adores This Princess of the air; The lone pine-barren broods afar and sighs, "Ah! come, lest I despair;" The myrtle-thickets and ill-tempered thorns Quiver and thrill within, As through their leaves they feel the dainty touch Of yellow jessamine.
The garden-roses wonder as they see The wreaths of golden bloom, Brought in from the far woods with eager haste To deck the poorest room, The rich man's house, alike; the loaded hands Give sprays to all they meet, Till, gay with flowers, the people come and go, And all the air is sweet.
The Southern land, well weary of its green Which may not fall nor fade, Bestirs itself to greet the lovely flower With leaves of fresher shade; The pine has tassels, and the orange-trees Their fragrant work begin: The spring has come—has come to Florida, With yellow jessamine.
Constance Fenimore Woolson [1840-1894]
By copse and hedgerow, waste and wall, He thrusts his cushions red; O'er burdock rank, o'er thistles tall, He rears his hardy head: Within, without, the strong leaves press, He screens the mossy stone, Lord of a narrow wilderness, Self-centred and alone.
He numbers no observant friends, He soothes no childish woes, Yet nature nurtures him, and tends As duly as the rose; He drinks the blessed dew of heaven, The wind is in his ears, To guard his growth the planets seven Swing in their airy spheres.
The spirits of the fields and woods Throb in his sturdy veins: He drinks the secret, stealing floods, And swills the volleying rains: And when the bird's note showers and breaks The wood's green heart within, He stirs his plumy brow and wakes To draw the sunlight in.
Mute sheep that pull the grasses soft Crop close and pass him by, Until he stands alone, aloft, In surly majesty. No fly so keen, no bee so bold, To pierce that knotted zone; He frowns as though he guarded gold, And yet he garners none.
And so when autumn winds blow late, And whirl the chilly wave, He bows before the common fate, And drops beside his grave. None ever owed him thanks or said "A gift of gracious heaven." Down in the mire he droops his head; Forgotten, not forgiven.
Smile on, brave weed! let none inquire What made or bade thee rise: Toss thy tough fingers high and higher To flout the drenching skies. Let others toil for others' good, And miss or mar their own; Thou hast brave health and fortitude To live and die alone!
Arthur Christopher Benson [1862-1925]
The root is hard to loose From hold of earth by mortals; but God's power Can all things do. 'Tis black, but bears a flower As white as milk. —Chapman's Homer
Traveler, pluck a stem of moly, If thou touch at Circe's isle,— Hermes' moly, growing solely To undo enchanter's wile! When she proffers thee her chalice,— Wine and spices mixed with malice,— When she smites thee with her staff, To transform thee, do thou laugh! Safe thou art if thou but bear The least leaf of moly rare. Close it grows beside her portal, Springing from a stock immortal,— Yes! and often has the Witch Sought to tear it from its niche; But to thwart her cruel will The wise God renews it still. Though it grows in soil perverse, Heaven hath been its jealous nurse, And a flower of snowy mark Springs from root and sheathing dark; Kingly safeguard, only herb That can brutish passion curb! Some do think its name should be Shield-Heart, White Integrity. Traveler, pluck a stem of moly, If thou touch at Circe's isle,— Hermes' moly, growing solely To undo enchanter's wile!
Edith M. Thomas [1854-1925]
Was it worth while to paint so fair Thy every leaf—to vein with faultless art Each petal, taking the boon light and air Of summer so to heart?
To bring thy beauty unto perfect flower, Then, like a passing fragrance or a smile, Vanish away, beyond recovery's power— Was it, frail bloom, worth while?
Thy silence answers: "Life was mine! And I, who pass without regret or grief, Have cared the more to make my moment fine, Because it was so brief.
"In its first radiance I have seen The sun!—why tarry then till comes the night? I go my way, content that I have been Part of the morning light!"
Florence Earle Coates [1850-1927]
THE MOUNTAIN HEART'S-EASE
By scattered rocks and turbid waters shifting, By furrowed glade and dell, To feverish men thy calm, sweet face uplifting, Thou stayest them to tell
The delicate thought that cannot find expression, For ruder speech too fair, That, like thy petals, trembles in possession, And scatters on the air.
The miner pauses in his rugged labor, And, leaning on his spade, Laughingly calls unto his comrade-neighbor To see thy charms displayed.
But in his eyes a mist unwonted rises, And for a moment clear Some sweet home face his foolish thought surprises And passes in a tear,—
Some boyish vision of his Eastern village, Of uneventful toil, Where golden harvests followed quiet tillage Above a peaceful soil.
One moment only, for the pick, uplifting, Through root and fibre cleaves, And on the muddy current slowly drifting Are swept thy bruised leaves.
And yet, O poet, in thy homely fashion, Thy work thou dost fulfil, For on the turbid current of his passion Thy face is shining still!
Bret Harte [1839-1902]
Ask me why I send you here This sweet Infanta of the year? Ask me why I send to you This Primrose, thus bepearled with dew? I will whisper to your ears:— The sweets of love are mixed with tears.
Ask me why this flower does show So yellow-green, and sickly too? Ask me why the stalk is weak And bending, yet it doth not break? I will answer:—These discover What fainting hopes are in a lover.
Robert Herrick [1591-1674]
TO PRIMROSES FILLED WITH MORNING DEW
Why do ye weep, sweet babes? Can tears Speak grief in you, Who were but born Just as the modest morn Teemed her refreshing dew? Alas, you have not known that shower That mars a flower, Nor felt the unkind Breath of a blasting wind, Nor are ye worn with years, Or warped, as we, Who think it strange to see Such pretty flowers, like to orphans young, To speak by tears, before ye have a tongue.
Speak, whimpering younglings, and make known The reason why Ye droop and weep; Is it for want of sleep, Or childish lullaby? Or that ye have not seen as yet The violet? Or brought a kiss From that Sweet-heart, to this? —No, no, this sorrow shown By your tears shed, Would have this lecture read, That things of greatest, so of meanest worth, Conceived with grief are, and with tears brought forth.
Robert Herrick [1591-1674]
TO AN EARLY PRIMROSE
Mild offspring of a dark and sullen sire! Whose modest form, so delicately fine, Was nursed in whirling storms And cradled in the winds;
Thee, when young Spring first questioned Winter's sway, And dared the sturdy blusterer to the fight, Thee on this bank he threw To mark his victory.
In this low vale, the promise of the year, Serene, thou openest to the nipping gale, Unnoticed and alone, Thy tender elegance.
So Virtue blooms, brought forth amid the storms Of chill adversity; in some lone walk Of life she rears her head, Obscure and unobserved;
While every bleaching breeze that on her blows Chastens her spotless purity of breast, And hardens her to bear Serene the ills of life.
Henry Kirke White [1785-1806]
THE RHODORA On Being Asked Whence Is The Flower
In May, when sea-winds pierced our solitudes, I found the fresh Rhodora in the woods, Spreading its leafless blooms in a damp nook, To please the desert and the sluggish brook. The purple petals, fallen in the pool, Made the black water with their beauty gay; Here might the red-bird come his plumes to cool, And court the flower that cheapens his array. Rhodora! if the sages ask thee why This charm is wasted on the earth and sky, Tell them, dear, that if eyes were made for seeing, Then Beauty is its own excuse for being: Why thou wert there, O rival of the rose! I never thought to ask, I never knew: But, in my simple ignorance, suppose The self-same Power that brought me there brought you.
Ralph Waldo Emerson [1803-1882]
A rose, as fair as ever saw the North, Grew in a little garden all alone; A sweeter flower did Nature ne'er put forth, Nor fairer garden yet was never known: The maidens danced about it morn and noon, And learned bards of it their ditties made; The nimble fairies by the pale-faced moon Watered the root and kissed her pretty shade. But well-a-day!—the gardener careless grew; The maids and fairies both were kept away, And in a drought the caterpillars threw Themselves upon the bud and every spray. God shield the stock! If heaven send no supplies, The fairest blossom of the garden dies.
William Browne [1591-1643]
On long, serene midsummer days Of ripening fruit and yellow grain, How sweetly, by dim woodland ways, In tangled hedge or leafy lane, Fair wild-rose thickets, you unfold Those pale pink stars with hearts of gold!
Your sleek patrician sisters dwell On lawns where gleams the shrub's trim bosk, In terraced gardens, tended well, Near pebbled walk and quaint kiosk. In costliest urns their colors rest; They beam on beauty's fragrant breast!
But you in lowly calm abide, Scarce heeded save by breeze or bee; You know what splendor, pomp and pride Full oft your brilliant sisters see; What sorrow too, and bitter fears; What mad farewells and hopeless tears.
How some are kept in old, dear books, That once in bridal wreaths were worn; How some are kissed, with tender looks, And later tossed aside with scorn; How some their taintless petals lay On icy foreheads, pale as they!
So, while these truths you vaguely guess, A-bloom in many a lonesome spot, Shy roadside roses, may you bless The fate that rules your modest lot, Like rustic maids that meekly stand Below the ladies of their land!
Edgar Fawcett [1847-1904]
THE ROSE OF MAY
Ah! there's the lily, marble pale, The bonny broom, the cistus frail; The rich sweet pea, the iris blue, The larkspur with its peacock hue; All these are fair, yet hold I will That the Rose of May is fairer still.
'Tis grand 'neath palace walls to grow, To blaze where lords and ladies go; To hang o'er marble founts, and shine In modern gardens, trim and fine; But the Rose of May is only seen Where the great of other days have been.
The house is mouldering stone by stone, The garden-walks are overgrown; The flowers are low, the weeds are high, The fountain-stream is choked and dry, The dial-stone with moss is green, Where'er the Rose of May is seen.
The Rose of May its pride displayed Along the old stone balustrade; And ancient ladies, quaintly dight, In its pink blossoms took delight; And on the steps would make a stand To scent its fragrance—fan in hand.
Long have been dead those ladies gay; Their very heirs have passed away; And their old portraits, prim and tall, Are mouldering in the mouldering hall; The terrace and the balustrade Lie broken, weedy and decayed.
But blithe and tall the Rose of May Shoots upward through the ruin gray; With scented flower, and leaf pale green, Such rose as it hath never been, Left, like a noble deed, to grace The memory of an ancient race.
Mary Howitt [1799-1888]
Blown in the morning, thou shalt fade ere noon. What boots a life which in such haste forsakes thee? Thou'rt wondrous frolic, being to die so soon, And passing proud a little color makes thee. If thee thy brittle beauty so deceives, Know then the thing that swells thee is thy bane; For the same beauty cloth, in bloody leaves, The sentence of thy early death contain. Some clown's coarse lungs will poison thy sweet flower, If by the careless plough thou shalt be torn; And many Herods lie in wait each hour To murder thee as soon as thou art born— Nay, force thy bud to blow—their tyrant breath Anticipating life, to hasten death!
Richard Fanshawe [1608-1666]
When April rains make flowers bloom And Johnny-jump-ups come to light, And clouds of color and perfume Float from the orchards pink and white, I see my shamrock in the rain, An emerald spray with raindrops set, Like jewels on Spring's coronet, So fair, and yet it breathes of pain.
The shamrock on an older shore Sprang from a rich and sacred soil Where saint and hero lived of yore, And where their sons in sorrow toil; And here, transplanted, it to me Seems weeping for the soil it left: The diamonds that all others see Are tears drawn from its heart bereft.
When April rain makes flowers grow, And sparkles on their tiny buds That in June nights will over-blow And fill the world with scented floods, The lonely shamrock in our land— So fine among the clover leaves— For the old springtime often grieves,— I feel its tears upon my hand.
Maurice Francis Egan [1852-1924]
Welcome, maids of honor, You do bring In the Spring, And wait upon her.
She has virgins many, Fresh and fair; Yet you are More sweet than any.
You're the maiden posies, And, so graced, To be placed 'Fore damask roses.
Yet, though thus respected, By and by Ye do lie, Poor girls, neglected.
Robert Herrick [1591-1674]
O faint, delicious, spring-time violet! Thine odor, like a key, Turns noiselessly in memory's wards to let A thought of sorrow free.
The breath of distant fields upon my brow Blows through that open door The sound of wind-borne bells, more sweet and low, And sadder than of yore.
It comes afar, from that beloved place, And that beloved hour, When life hung ripening in love's golden grace, Like grapes above a bower.
A spring goes singing through its reedy grass; The lark sings o'er my head, Drowned in the sky—O, pass, ye visions, pass! I would that I were dead!—
Why hast thou opened that forbidden door, From which I ever flee? O vanished Joy! O Love, that art no more, Let my vexed spirit be!
O violet! thy odor through my brain Hath searched, and stung to grief This sunny day, as if a curse did stain Thy velvet leaf.
William Wetmore Story [1819-1895]
TO A WOOD-VIOLET
In this secluded shrine, O miracle of grace, No mortal eye but mine Hath looked upon thy face.
No shadow but mine own Hath screened thee from the sight Of Heaven, whose love alone Hath led me to thy light.
Whereof—as shade to shade Is wedded in the sun— A moment's glance hath made Our souls forever one.
John Banister Tabb [1845-1909]
THE VIOLET AND THE ROSE
The violet in the wood, that's sweet to-day, Is longer sweet than roses of red June; Set me sweet violets along my way, And bid the red rose flower, but not too soon. Ah violet, ah rose, why not the two? Why bloom not all fair flowers the whole year through? Why not the two, young violet, ripe rose? Why dies one sweetness when another blows?
Augusta Webster [1837-1894]
TO A WIND-FLOWER
Teach me the secret of thy loveliness, That, being made wise, I may aspire to be As beautiful in thought, and so express Immortal truths to earth's mortality; Though to my soul ability be less Than 'tis to thee, O sweet anemone.
Teach me the secret of thy innocence, That in simplicity I may grow wise, Asking from Art no other recompense Than the approval of her own just eyes; So may I rise to some fair eminence, Though less than thine, O cousin of the skies.
Teach me these things, through whose high knowledge, I,— When Death hath poured oblivion through my veins, And brought me home, as all are brought, to lie In that vast house, common to serfs and thanes,— I shall not die, I shall not utterly die, For beauty born of beauty—that remains.
Madison Cawein [1865-1914]
Fair pledges of a fruitful tree, Why do ye fall so fast? Your date is not so past But you may stay yet here awhile To blush and gently smile, And go at last.
What! were ye born to be An hour or half's delight, And so to bid good-night? 'Twas pity Nature brought you forth Merely to show your worth And lose you quite.
But you are lovely leaves, where we May read how soon things have Their end, though ne'er so brave: And after they have shown their pride Like you awhile, they glide Into the grave.
Robert Herrick [1591-1674]
"TIS THE LAST ROSE OF SUMMER"
'Tis the last rose of summer, Left blooming alone; All her lovely companions Are faded and gone; No flower of her kindred, No rose-bud is nigh, To reflect back her blushes, Or give sigh for sigh.
I'll not leave thee, thou lone one! To pine on the stem; Since the lovely are sleeping, Go, sleep thou with them. Thus kindly I scatter Thy leaves o'er the bed Where thy mates of the garden Lie scentless and dead.
So soon may I follow, When friendships decay, And from Love's shining circle The gems drop away. When true hearts lie withered, And fond ones are flown, O who would inhabit This bleak world alone?
Thomas Moore [1779-1852]
THE DEATH OF THE FLOWERS
The melancholy days are come, the saddest of the year, Of wailing winds, and naked woods, and meadows brown and sere. Heaped in the hollows of the grove, the autumn leaves lie dead; They rustle to the eddying gust, and to the rabbit's tread; The robin and the wren are flown, and from the shrubs the jay, And from the wood-top calls the crow through all the gloomy day.
Where are the flowers, the fair young flowers, that lately sprang and stood In brighter light and softer airs, a beauteous sisterhood? Alas! they all are in their graves, the gentle race of flowers Are lying in their lowly beds, with the fair and good of ours. The rain is falling where they lie, but the cold November rain Calls not from out the gloomy earth the lovely ones again.
The wind-flower and the violet, they perished long ago, And the brier-rose and the orchis died amid the summer glow; But on the hill the golden-rod, and the aster in the wood, And the yellow sun-flower by the brook, in autumn beauty stood, Till fell the frost from the clear cold heaven, as falls the plague on men, And the brightness of their smile was gone, from upland, glade, and glen.
And now, when comes the calm mild day, as still such days will come, To call the squirrel and the bee from out their winter home; When the sound of dropping nuts is heard, though all the trees are still, And twinkle in the smoky light the waters of the rill, The south wind searches for the flowers whose fragrance late he bore, And sighs to find them in the wood and by the stream no more.
And then I think of one who in her youthful beauty died, The fair meek blossom that grew up and faded by my side. In the cold moist earth we laid her, when the forest cast the leaf, And we wept that one so lovely should have a life so brief: Yet not unmeet it was that one like that young friend of ours, So gentle and so beautiful, should perish with the flowers.
William Cullen Bryant [1794-1878]
ONCE ON A TIME
Once on a time I used to dream Strange spirits moved about my way, And I might catch a vagrant gleam, A glint of pixy or of fay; Their lives were mingled with my own, So far they roamed, so near they drew; And when I from a child had grown, I woke—and found my dream was true.
For one is clad in coat of fur, And one is decked with feathers gay; Another, wiser, will prefer A sober suit of Quaker gray: This one's your servant from his birth, And that a Princess you must please, And this one loves to wake your mirth, And that one likes to share your ease.
O gracious creatures, tiny souls! You seem so near, so far away, Yet while the cloudland round us rolls, We love you better every day.
Margaret Benson [18—
TO A MOUSE On Turning Up Her Nest With The Plow, November, 1785
Wee, sleekit, cow'rin', tim'rous beastie, O, what a panic's in thy breastie! Thou need na start awa' sae hasty, Wi' bickering brattle! I wad be laith to rin an' chase thee, Wi' murd'ring pattle!
I'm truly sorry man's dominion Has broken Nature's social union, An' justifies that ill opinion, Which makes thee startle At me, thy poor, earth-born companion, An' fellow-mortal!
I doubt na, whiles, but thou may thieve; What then? poor beastie, thou maun live! A daimen icker in a thrave 'S a sma' request; I'll get a blessin' wi' the laive, And never miss't!
Thy wee bit housie, too, in ruin! Its silly wa's the win's are strewin'! An' naething, now, to big a new ane, O' faggage green! An' bleak December's winds ensuin', Baith snell an' keen!
Thou saw the fields laid bare an' waste, An' weary winter comin' fast, An' cozie here, beneath the blast, Thou thought to dwell,— Till, crash! the cruel coulter passed Out through thy cell.
That wee bit heap o' leaves an' stibble Has cost thee mony a weary nibble! Now thou's turned out, for a' thy trouble, But house or hald, To thole the winter's sleety dribble, An' cranreuch cauld!
But, Mousie, thou art no thy lane, In proving foresight may be vain:— The best-laid schemes o' mice an' men, Gang aft a-gley, An' lea'e us naught but grief an' pain, For promised joy!
Still thou art blest, compared wi' me! The present only toucheth thee: But, och! I backward cast my e'e On prospects drear! An' forward, though I canna see, I guess an' fear!
Robert Burns [1759-1796]
Happy insect, what can be In happiness compared to thee? Fed with nourishment divine, The dewy morning's gentle wine! Nature waits upon thee still, And thy verdant cup does fill; 'Tis filled wherever thou dost tread, Nature's self's thy Ganymede. Thou dost drink, and dance, and sing, Happier than the happiest king! All the fields which thou dost see, All the plants belong to thee; All the summer hours produce, Fertile made with early juice. Man for thee does sow and plow, Farmer he, and landlord thou! Thou dost innocently enjoy; Nor does thy luxury destroy. The shepherd gladly heareth thee, More harmonious than he. Thee country hinds with gladness hear, Prophet of the ripened year! Thee Phoebus loves, and does inspire Phoebus is himself thy sire. To thee, of all things upon earth, Life is no longer than thy mirth. Happy insect! happy thou, Dost neither age nor winter know; But when thou'st drunk, and danced, and sung Thy fill, the flowery leaves among, (Voluptuous and wise withal, Epicurean animal!) Sated with thy summer feast, Thou retir'st to endless rest.
After Anacreon, by Abraham Cowley [1618-1667]
ON THE GRASSHOPPER AND CRICKET
The poetry of earth is never dead: When all the birds are faint with the hot sun, And hide in cooling trees, a voice will run From hedge to hedge about the new-mown mead: That is the Grasshopper's—he takes the lead In summer luxury,—he has never done With his delights, for when tired out with fun, He rests at ease beneath some pleasant weed. The poetry of earth is ceasing never: On a lone winter evening, when the frost Has wrought a silence, from the stove there shrills The Cricket's song, in warmth increasing ever, And seems to one in drowsiness half-lost, The Grasshopper's among the grassy hills.
John Keats [1795-1821]
TO THE GRASSHOPPER AND THE CRICKET
Green little vaulter in the sunny grass, Catching your heart up at the feel of June; Sole voice that's heard amidst the lazy noon, When even the bees lag at the summoning brass; And you, warm little housekeeper, who class With those who think the candles come too soon, Loving the fire, and with your tricksome tune Nick the glad silent moments as they pass; O sweet and tiny cousins, that belong One to the fields, the other to the hearth, Both have your sunshine; both, though small, are strong At your clear hearts; and both seem given to earth To sing in thoughtful ears their natural song— In-doors and out, summer and winter, Mirth.
Leigh Hunt [1784-1859]
Little inmate, full of mirth, Chirping on my kitchen hearth, Wheresoe'er be thine abode Always harbinger of good, Pay me for thy warm retreat With a song more soft and sweet; In return thou shalt receive Such a strain as I can give.
Thus thy praise shall be expressed, Inoffensive, welcome guest! While the rat is on the scout, And the mouse with curious snout, With what vermin else infest Every dish, and spoil the best; Frisking thus before the fire, Thou hast all thy heart's desire.
Though in voice and shape they be Formed as if akin to thee, Thou surpassest, happier far, Happiest grasshoppers that are; Theirs is but a summer's song, Thine endures the winter long, Unimpaired, and shrill, and clear, Melody throughout the year.
Neither night nor dawn of day Puts a period to thy play: Sing then—and extend thy span Far beyond the date of man; Wretched man, whose years are spent In repining discontent, Lives not, aged though he be, Half a span, compared with thee.
From the Latin of Vincent Bourne, by William Cowper [1731-1800]
TO A CRICKET
Voice of summer, keen and shrill, Chirping round my winter fire, Of thy song I never tire, Weary others as they will, For thy song with summer's filled— Filled with sunshine, filled with June; Firelight echo of that noon Heard in fields when all is stilled In the golden light of May, Bringing scents of new-mown hay, Bees, and birds, and flowers away, Prithee, haunt my fireside still, Voice of summer, keen and shrill.
William Cox Bennett [1820-1895]
TO AN INSECT
I love to hear thine earnest voice, Wherever thou art hid, Thou testy little dogmatist, Thou pretty Katydid! Thou mindest me of gentlefolks,— Old gentlefolks are they,— Thou say'st an undisputed thing In such a solemn way.
Thou art a female, Katydid! I know it by the trill That quivers through thy piercing notes, So petulant and shrill; I think there is a knot of you Beneath the hollow tree,— A knot of spinster Katydids,— Do Katydids drink tea?
Oh, tell me where did Katy live, And what did Katy do? And was she very fair and young, And yet so wicked, too? Did Katy love a naughty man, Or kiss more cheeks than one? I warrant Katy did no more Than many a Kate has done.
Dear me! I'll tell you all about My fuss with little Jane, And Ann, with whom I used to walk So often down the lane, And all that tore their locks of black, Or wet their eyes of blue,— Pray tell me, sweetest Katydid, What did poor Katy do?
Ah no! the living oak shall crash, That stood for ages still, The rock shall rend its mossy base And thunder down the hill, Before the little Katydid Shall add one word, to tell The mystic story of the maid Whose name she knows so well.
Peace to the ever-murmuring race! And when the latest one Shall fold in death her feeble wings Beneath the autumn sun, Then shall she raise her fainting voice, And lift her drooping lid, And then the child of future years Shall hear what Katy did.
Oliver Wendell Holmes [1809-1894]
To grass, or leaf, or fruit, or wall, The snail sticks close, nor fears to fall, As if he grew there, house and all Together.
Within that house secure he hides, When danger imminent betides, Of storm, or other harm besides Of weather.
Give but his horns the slightest touch, His self-collecting power is such, He shrinks into his house with much Displeasure.
Where'er he dwells, he dwells alone, Except himself, has chattels none, Well satisfied to be his own Whole treasure.
Thus, hermit-like, his life he leads, Nor partner of his banquet needs, And if he meets one, only feeds The faster.
Who seeks him must be worse than blind (He and his house are so combined), If, finding it, he fails to find Its master.
From the Latin of Vincent Bourne, by William Cowper [1731-1800]
The frugal snail, with forecast of repose, Carries his house with him where'er he goes; Peeps out,—and if there comes a shower of rain, Retreats to his small domicile amain. Touch but a tip of him, a horn,—'tis well,— He curls up in his sanctuary shell. He's his own landlord, his own tenant; stay Long as he will, he dreads no Quarter Day. Himself he boards and lodges; both invites And feasts himself; sleeps with himself o' nights. He spares the upholsterer trouble to procure Chattels; himself is his own furniture, And his sole riches. Whereso'er he roam,— Knock when you will,—he's sure to be at home.
From the Latin of Vincent Bourne, by Charles Lamb [1775-1834]
Burly, dozing humble-bee, Where thou art is clime for me. Let them sail for Porto Rique, Far-off heats through seas to seek; I will follow thee alone, Thou animated torrid-zone! Zigzag steerer, desert cheerer, Let me chase thy waving lines; Keep me nearer, me thy hearer, Singing over shrubs and vines.
Insect lover of the sun, Joy of thy dominion! Sailor of the atmosphere; Swimmer through the waves of air; Voyager of light and noon; Epicurean of June; Wait, I prithee, till I come Within earshot of thy hum,— All without is martyrdom.
When the south wind, in May days, With a net of shining haze Silvers the horizon wall, And with softness touching all, Tints the human countenance With a color of romance, And infusing subtle heats, Turns the sod to violets, Thou, in sunny solitudes, Rover of the underwoods, The green silence dost displace With thy mellow, breezy bass.
Hot midsummer's petted crone, Sweet to me thy drowsy tone Tells of countless sunny hours, Long days, and solid banks of flowers; Of gulfs of sweetness without bound In Indian wildernesses found; Of Syrian peace, immortal leisure, Firmest cheer, and birdlike pleasure.
Aught unsavory or unclean Hath my insect never seen; But violets and bilberry bells, Maple-sap and daffodels, Grass with green flag half-mast high, Succory to match the sky, Columbine with horn of honey, Scented fern, and agrimony, Clover, catchfly, adder's tongue And brier-roses, dwelt among; All beside was unknown waste, All was picture as he passed.
Wiser far than human seer, Yellow-breeched philosopher! Seeing only what is fair, Sipping only what is sweet, Thou dost mock at fate and care, Leave the chaff, and take the wheat. When the fierce northwestern blast Cools sea and land so far and fast, Thou already slumberest deep; Woe and want thou canst outsleep; Want and woe, which torture us, Thy sleep makes ridiculous.
Ralph Waldo Emerson [1803-1882]
TO A BUTTERFLY
I've watched you now a full half-hour, Self-poised upon that yellow flower; And, little Butterfly! indeed I know not if you sleep or feed. How motionless! not frozen seas More motionless! and then What joy awaits you, when the breeze Has found you out among the trees, And calls you forth again!
This plot of orchard-ground is ours; My trees they are, my Sister's flowers; Here rest your wings when they are weary; Here lodge as in a sanctuary! Come often to us, fear no wrong; Sit near us on the bough! We'll talk of sunshine and of song, And summer days, when we are young; Sweet childish days, that were as long As twenty days are now.
William Wordsworth [1770-1850]
ODE TO A BUTTERFLY
Thou spark of life that wavest wings of gold, Thou songless wanderer mid the songful birds, With Nature's secrets in thy tints unrolled Through gorgeous cipher, past the reach of words, Yet dear to every child In glad pursuit beguiled, Living his unspoiled days mid flowers and flocks and herds!
Thou winged blossom, liberated thing, What secret tie binds thee to other flowers, Still held within the garden's fostering? Will they too soar with the completed hours, Take flight, and be like thee Irrevocably free, Hovering at will o'er their parental bowers?
Or is thy luster drawn from heavenly hues,— A sumptuous drifting fragment of the sky, Caught when the sunset its last glance imbues With sudden splendor, and the tree-tops high Grasp that swift blazonry, Then lend those tints to thee, On thee to float a few short hours, and die?
Birds have their nests; they rear their eager young, And flit on errands all the livelong day; Each fieldmouse keeps the homestead whence it sprung; But thou art Nature's freeman,—free to stray Unfettered through the wood, Seeking thine airy food, The sweetness spiced on every blossomed spray.
The garden one wide banquet spreads for thee, O daintiest reveller of the joyous earth! One drop of honey gives satiety; A second draught would drug thee past all mirth. Thy feast no orgy shows; Thy calm eyes never close, Thou soberest sprite to which the sun gives birth.
And yet the soul of man upon thy wings Forever soars in aspiration; thou His emblem of the new career that springs When death's arrest bids all his spirit bow. He seeks his hope in thee Of immortality. Symbol of life, me with such faith endow!
Thomas Wentworth Higginson [1823-1911]
I hold you at last in my hand, Exquisite child of the air. Can I ever understand How you grew to be so fair?
You came to my linden tree To taste its delicious sweet, I sitting here in the shadow and shine Playing around its feet.
Now I hold you fast in my hand, You marvelous butterfly, Till you help me to understand The eternal mystery.
From that creeping thing in the dust To this shining bliss in the blue! God give me courage to trust I can break my chrysalis too!
Alice Freeman Palmer [1855-1902]
I saw, one sultry night above a swamp, The darkness throbbing with their golden pomp! And long my dazzled sight did they entrance With the weird chaos of their dizzy dance! Quicker than yellow leaves, when gales despoil, Quivered the brilliance of their mute turmoil, Within whose light was intricately blent Perpetual rise, perpetual descent. As though their scintillant flickerings had met In the vague meshes of some airy net! And now mysteriously I seemed to guess, While watching their tumultuous loveliness, What fervor of deep passion strangely thrives In the warm richness of these tropic lives, Whose wings can never tremble but they show These hearts of living fire that beat below!
Edgar Fawcett [1847-1904]
THE BLOOD HORSE
Gamarra is a dainty steed, Strong, black, and of a noble breed, Full of fire, and full of bone, With all his line of fathers known; Fine his nose, his nostrils thin, But blown abroad by the pride within! His mane is like a river flowing, And his eyes like embers glowing In the darkness of the night, And his pace as swift as light.
Look,—how 'round his straining throat Grace and shifting beauty float! Sinewy strength is in his reins, And the red blood gallops through his veins; Richer, redder, never ran Through the boasting heart of man. He can trace his lineage higher Than the Bourbon dare aspire,— Douglas, Guzman, or the Guelph, Or O'Brien's blood itself!
He, who hath no peer, was born, Here, upon a red March morn; But his famous fathers dead Were Arabs all, and Arab bred, And the last of that great line Trod like one of a race divine! And yet,—he was but friend to one Who fed him at the set of sun, By some lone fountain fringed with green: With him, a roving Bedouin, He lived, (none else would he obey Through all the hot Arabian day), And died untamed upon the sands Where Balkh amidst the desert stands.
Bryan Waller Procter [1787-1874]
Sure maybe ye've heard the storm-thrush Whistlin' bould in March, Before there's a primrose peepin' out, Or a wee red cone on the larch; Whistlin' the sun to come out o' the cloud, An' the wind to come over the sea, But for all he can whistle so clear an' loud, He's never the bird for me.
Sure maybe ye've seen the song-thrush After an April rain Slip from in-undher the drippin' leaves, Wishful to sing again; An' low wi' love when he's near the nest, An' loud from the top o' the tree, But for all he can flutter the heart in your breast, He's never the bird for me.
Sure maybe ye've heard the cushadoo Callin' his mate in May, When one sweet thought is the whole of his life, An' he tells it the one sweet way. But my heart is sore at the cushadoo Filled wid his own soft glee, Over an' over his "me an' you!" He's never the bird for me.
Sure maybe ye've heard the red-breast Singin' his lone on a thorn, Mindin' himself o' the dear days lost, Brave wid his heart forlorn. The time is in dark November, An' no spring hopes has he: "Remember," he sings, "remember!" Ay, thon's the wee bird for me.
Moira O'Neill [18—
Birds are singing round my window, Tunes the sweetest ever heard, And I hang my cage there daily, But I never catch a bird.
So with thoughts my brain is peopled, And they sing there all day long: But they will not fold their pinions In the little cage of Song!
Richard Henry Stoddard [1825-1903]
O lonesome sea-gull, floating far Over the ocean's icy waste, Aimless and wide thy wanderings are, Forever vainly seeking rest:— Where is thy mate, and where thy nest?
'Twixt wintry sea and wintry sky, Cleaving the keen air with thy breast, Thou sailest slowly, solemnly; No fetter on thy wing is pressed:— Where is thy mate, and where thy nest?
O restless, homeless human soul, Following for aye thy nameless quest, The gulls float, and the billows roll; Thou watchest still, and questionest:— Where is thy mate, and where thy nest?
Elizabeth Akers [1832-1911]
THE LITTLE BEACH-BIRD
Thou little bird, thou dweller by the sea, Why takest thou its melancholy voice, And with that boding cry Why o'er the waves dost fly? O, rather, bird, with me Through the fair land rejoice!
Thy flitting form comes ghostly dim and pale, As driven by a beating storm at sea; Thy cry is weak and scared, As if thy mates had shared The doom of us. Thy wail,— What doth it bring to me?
Thou call'st along the sand, and haunt'st the surge, Restless, and sad; as if, in strange accord With the motion and the roar Of waves that drive to shore, One spirit did ye urge— The Mystery—the Word.
Of thousands, thou, both sepulchre and pall, Old Ocean! A requiem o'er the dead, From out thy gloomy cells, A tale of mourning tells,— Tells of man's woe and fall, His sinless glory fled.
Then turn thee, little bird, and take thy flight Where the complaining sea shall sadness bring Thy spirit nevermore. Come, quit with me the shore, For gladness and the light, Where birds of summer sing.
Richard Henry Dana [1787-1879]
How sweet the harmonies of afternoon: The Blackbird sings along the sunny breeze His ancient song of leaves, and summer boon; Rich breath of hayfields streams through whispering trees; And birds of morning trim their bustling wings, And listen fondly—while the Blackbird sings.
How soft the lovelight of the West reposes On this green valley's cheery solitude, On the trim cottage with its screen of roses, On the gray belfry with its ivy hood, And murmuring mill-race, and the wheel that flings Its bubbling freshness—while the Blackbird sings.
The very dial on the village church Seems as 'twere dreaming in a dozy rest; The scribbled benches underneath the porch Bask in the kindly welcome of the West; But the broad casements of the old Three Kings Blaze like a furnace—while the Blackbird sings.
And there beneath the immemorial elm Three rosy revellers round a table sit, And through gray clouds give laws unto the realm, Curse good and great, but worship their own wit. And roar of fights, and fairs, and junketings, Corn, colts, and curs—the while the Blackbird sings.
Before her home, in her accustomed seat, The tidy Grandam spins beneath the shade Of the old honeysuckle, at her feet The dreaming pug, and purring tabby laid; To her low chair a little maiden clings, And spells in silence—while the Blackbird sings.
Sometimes the shadow of a lazy cloud Breathes o'er the hamlet with its gardens green. While the far fields with sunlight overflowed Like golden shores of Fairyland are seen; Again, the sunshine on the shadow springs, And fires the thicket where the Blackbird sings.
The woods, the lawn, the peaked Manorhouse, With its peach-covered walls, and rookery loud, The trim, quaint garden alleys, screened with boughs. The lion-headed gates, so grim and proud, The mossy fountain with its murmurings, Lie in warm sunshine—while the Blackbird sings.
The ring of silver voices, and the sheen Of festal garments—and my Lady streams With her gay court across the garden green; Some laugh, and dance, some whisper their love-dreams; And one calls for a little page; he strings Her lute beside her—while the Blackbird sings.
A little while—and lo! the charm is heard, A youth, whose life has been all Summer, steals Forth from the noisy guests around the board, Creeps by her softly; at her footstool kneels; And, when she pauses, murmurs tender things Into her fond ear—while the Blackbird sings.
The smoke-wreaths from the chimneys curl up higher, And dizzy things of eve begin to float Upon the light; the breeze begins to tire; Half way to sunset with a drowsy note The ancient clock from out the valley swings; The Grandam nods—and still the Blackbird sings.
Far shouts and laughter from the farmstead peal, Where the great stack is piling in the sun; Through narrow gates o'erladen wagons reel, And barking curs into the tumult run; While the inconstant wind bears off, and brings The merry tempest—and the Blackbird sings.
On the high wold the last look of the sun Burns, like a beacon, over dale and stream; The shouts have ceased, the laughter and the fun; The Grandam sleeps, and peaceful be her dream; Only a hammer on an anvil rings; The day is dying—still the Blackbird sings.
Now the good Vicar passes from his gate Serene, with long white hair; and in his eye Burns the clear spirit that hath conquered Fate, And felt the wings of immortality; His heart is thronged with great imaginings, And tender mercies—while the Blackbird sings.
Down by the brook he bends his steps, and through A lowly wicket; and at last he stands Awful beside the bed of one who grew From boyhood with him—who, with lifted hands And eyes, seems listening to far welcomings, And sweeter music than the Blackbird sings.
Two golden stars, like tokens from the Blest, Strike on his dim orbs from the setting sun; His sinking hands seem pointing to the West; He smiles as though he said—"Thy will be done": His eyes, they see not those illuminings; His ears, they hear not what the Blackbird sings.
Frederick Tennyson [1807-1898]
When smoke stood up from Ludlow And mist blew off from Teme, And blithe afield to ploughing Against the morning beam I strode beside my team,
The blackbird in the coppice Looked out to see me stride, And hearkened as I whistled The trampling team beside, And fluted and replied:
"Lie down, lie down, young yeoman; What use to rise and rise? Rise man a thousand mornings Yet down at last he lies, And then the man is wise."
I heard the tune he sang me, And spied his yellow bill; I picked a stone and aimed it And threw it with a will: Then the bird was still.
Then my soul within me Took up the blackbird's strain, And still beside the horses Along the dewy lane It sang the song again:
"Lie down, lie down, young yeoman; The sun moves always west; The road one treads to labor Will lead one home to rest, And that will be the best."
Alfred Edward Housman [1859-1936]
The nightingale has a lyre of gold; The lark's is a clarion call, And the blackbird plays but a box-wood flute, But I love him best of all.
For his song is all of the joy of life, And we in the mad, spring weather, We too have listened till he sang Our hearts and lips together.
William Ernest Henley [1849-1903]
Ov all the birds upon the wing Between the zunny showers o' spring,- Vor all the lark, a-swingen high, Mid zing below a cloudless sky, An' sparrows, clust'ren roun' the bough, Mid chatter to the men at plough,— The blackbird, whisslen in among The boughs, do zing the gayest zong.
Vor we do hear the blackbird zing His sweetest ditties in the spring, When nippen win's noo mwore do blow Vrom northern skies, wi' sleet or snow, But dreve light doust along between The leane-zide hedges, thick an' green; An' zoo the blackbird in among The boughs do zing the gayest zong.
'Tis blithe, wi' newly-opened eyes, To zee the mornen's ruddy skies; Or, out a-haulen frith or lops Vrom new-pleshed hedge or new-velled copse, To rest at noon in primrwose beds Below the white-barked woak-trees' heads; But there's noo time, the whole day long, Lik' evenen wi' the blackbird's zong.
Vor when my work is all a-done Avore the zetten o' the zun, Then blushen Jeane do walk along The hedge to meet me in the drong, An' stay till all is dim an' dark Bezides the ashen tree's white bark; An' all bezides the blackbird's shrill An' runnen evenen-whissle's still.
An' there in bwoyhood I did rove Wi' pryen eyes along the drove To vind the nest the blackbird meade O' grass-stalks in the high bough's sheade; Or climb aloft, wi' clingen knees, Vor crows' aggs up in swayen trees, While frightened blackbirds down below Did chatter o' their little foe. An' zoo there's noo pleace lik' the drong, Where I do hear the blackbird's zong.
William Barnes [1801-1886]
ROBERT OF LINCOLN
Merrily swinging on brier and weed Near to the nest of his little dame, Over the mountain-side or mead, Robert of Lincoln is telling his name: Bob-o'-link, bob-o'-link, Spink, spank, spink; Snug and safe is that nest of ours, Hidden among the summer flowers. Chee, chee, chee.
Robert of Lincoln is gayly dressed, Wearing a bright black wedding-coat; White are his shoulders and white his crest. Hear him call in his merry note: Bob-o'-link, bob-o'-link, Spink, spank, spink; Look, what a nice new coat is mine, Sure there was never a bird so fine. Chee, chee, chee.
Robert of Lincoln's Quaker wife, Pretty and quiet, with plain brown wings, Passing at home a patient life, Broods in the grass while her husband sings: Bob-o'-link, bob-o'-link, Spink, spank, spink; Brood, kind creature; you need not fear Thieves and robbers while I am here. Chee, chee, chee.
Modest and shy as a nun is she; One weak chirp is her only note. Braggart and prince of braggarts is he, Pouring boasts from his little throat: Bob-o'-link, bob-o'-link, Spink, spank, spink; Never was I afraid of man; Catch me, cowardly knaves, if you can! Chee, chee, chee.
Six white eggs on a bed of hay, Flecked with purple, a pretty sight! There as the mother sits all day, Robert is singing with all his might: Bob-o'-link, bob-o'-link, Spink, spank, spink; Nice good wife, that never goes out, Keeping house while I frolic about. Chee, chee, chee.
Soon as the little ones chip the shell, Six wide mouths are open for food; Robert of Lincoln bestirs him well, Gathering seeds for the hungry brood. Bob-o'-link, bob-o'-link, Spink, spank, spink; This new life is likely to be Hard for a gay young fellow like me. Chee, chee, chee.
Robert of Lincoln at length is made Sober with work, and silent with care; Off is his holiday garment laid. Half forgotten that merry air: Bob-o'-link, bob-o'-link, Spink, spank, spink; Nobody knows but my mate and I Where our nest and our nestlings lie. Chee, chee, chee.
Summer wanes; the children are grown; Fun and frolic no more he knows; Robert of Lincoln's a humdrum crone; Off he flies, and we sing as he goes: Bob-o'-link, bob-o'-link, Spink, spank, spink; When you can pipe that merry old strain, Robert of Lincoln, come back again. Chee, chee, chee.
William Cullen Bryant [1794-1878]
THE O'LINCON FAMILY
A flock of merry singing-birds were sporting in the grove; Some were warbling cheerily, and some were making love: There were Bobolincon, Wadolincon, Winterseeble, Conquedle,— A livelier set was never led by tabor, pipe, or fiddle,— Crying, "Phew, shew, Waldolincon, see, see, Bobolincon, Down among the tickletops, hiding in the buttercups! I know a saucy chap, I see his shining cap Bobbing in the clover there—see, see, see!"
Up flies Bobolincon, perching on an apple-tree, Startled by his rival's song, quickened by his raillery, Soon he spies the rogue afloat, curveting in the air, And merrily he turns about, and warns him to beware! "'Tis you that would a-wooing go, down among the rushes O! But wait a week, till flowers are cheery,—wait a week, and, ere you marry, Be sure of a house wherein to tarry! Wadolink, Whiskodink, Tom Denny, wait, wait, wait!"
Every one's a funny fellow; every one's a little mellow; Follow, follow, follow, follow, o'er the hill and in the hollow! Merrily, merrily, there they hie; now they rise and now they fly; They cross and turn, and in and out, and down in the middle and wheel about,— With a "Phew, shew, Wadolincon! listen to me, Bobolincon!— Happy's the wooing that's speedily doing, that's speedily doing, That's merry and over with the bloom of the clover! Bobolincon, Wadolincon, Winterseeble, follow, follow, follow me!"
Wilson Flagg [1805-1884]
Bobolink! that in the meadow, Or beneath the orchard's shadow, Keepest up a constant rattle Joyous as my children's prattle, Welcome to the north again! Welcome to mine ear thy strain, Welcome to mine eye the sight Of thy buff, thy black and white.
Brighter plumes may greet the sun By the banks of Amazon; Sweeter tones may weave the spell Of enchanting Philomel; But the tropic bird would fail, And the English nightingale, If we should compare their worth With thine endless, gushing mirth.
When the ides of May are past, June and Summer nearing fast, While from depths of blue above Comes the mighty breath of love. Calling out each bud and flower With resistless, secret power, Waking hope and fond desire, Kindling the erotic fire, Filling youths' and maidens' dreams With mysterious, pleasing themes; Then, amid the sunlight clear Floating in the fragrant air, Thou dost fill each heart with pleasure By thy glad ecstatic measure.
A single note, so sweet and low, Like a full heart's overflow, Forms the prelude; but the strain Gives no such tone again, For the wild and saucy song Leaps and skips the notes among, With such quick and sportive play, Ne'er was madder, merrier lay.
Gayest songster of the Spring! Thy melodies before me bring Visions of some dream-built land, Where, by constant zephyrs fanned, I might walk the livelong day, Embosomed in perpetual May. Nor care nor fear thy bosom knows; For thee a tempest never blows; But when our northern Summer's o'er, By Delaware's or Schuylkil's shore The wild rice lifts its airy head, And royal feasts for thee are spread. And when the Winter threatens there, Thy tireless wings yet own no fear. But bear thee to more southern coasts, Far beyond the reach of frosts.
Bobolink! still may thy gladness Take from me all taint of sadness; Fill my soul with trust unshaken In that Being who has taken Care for every living thing, In Summer, Winter, Fall, and Spring.
Thomas Hill [1818-1891]
MY CATBIRD A Capriccio
Nightingale I never heard, Nor skylark, poet's bird; But there is an aether-winger So surpasses every singer, (Though unknown to lyric fame,) That at morning, or at nooning, When I hear his pipe a-tuning, Down I fling Keats, Shelley, Wordsworth,— What are all their songs of birds worth? All their soaring Souls' outpouring? When my Mimus Carolinensis, (That's his Latin name,) When my warbler wild commences Song's hilarious rhapsody, Just to please himself and me! Primo Cantante! Scherzo! Andante! Piano, pianissimo! Presto, prestissimo! Hark! are there nine birds or ninety and nine? And now a miraculous gurgling gushes Like nectar from Hebe's Olympian bottle, The laughter of tune from a rapturous throttle! Such melody must be a hermit-thrush's! But that other caroler, nearer, Outrivaling rivalry with clearer Sweetness incredibly fine! Is it oriole, redbird, or bluebird, Or some strange, un-Auduboned new bird? All one, sir, both this bird and that bird, The whole flight are all the same catbird! The whole visible and invisible choir you see On one lithe twig of yon green tree. Flitting, feathery Blondel! Listen to his rondel! To his lay romantical! To his sacred canticle! Hear him lilting, See him tilting His saucy head and tail, and fluttering While uttering All the difficult operas under the sun Just for fun; Or in tipsy revelry, Or at love devilry, Or, disdaining his divine gift and art, Like an inimitable poet Who captivates the world's heart And don't know it. Hear him lilt! See him tilt! Then suddenly he stops, Peers about, flirts, hops, As if looking where he might gather up The wasted ecstasy just spilt From the quivering cup Of his bliss overrun. Then, as in mockery of all The tuneful spells that e'er did fall From vocal pipe, or evermore shall rise, He snarls, and mews, and flies.
William Henry Venable [1836-1920]
THE HERALD CRANE
Oh! say you so, bold sailor In the sun-lit deeps of sky! Dost thou so soon the seed-time tell In thy imperial cry, As circling in yon shoreless sea Thine unseen form goes drifting by?
I cannot trace in the noon-day glare Thy regal flight, O crane! From the leaping might of the fiery light Mine eyes recoil in pain, But on mine ear, thine echoing cry Falls like a bugle strain.
The mellow soil glows beneath my feet, Where lies the buried grain; The warm light floods the length and breadth Of the vast, dim, shimmering plain, Throbbing with heat and the nameless thrill Of the birth-time's restless pain.
On weary wing, plebeian geese Push on their arrowy line Straight into the north, or snowy brant In dazzling sunshine, gloom and shine; But thou, O crane, save for thy sovereign cry, At thy majestic height On proud, extended wings sweep'st on In lonely, easeful flight.
Then cry, thou martial-throated herald! Cry to the sun, and sweep And swing along thy mateless, tireless course Above the clouds that sleep Afloat on lazy air—cry on! Send down Thy trumpet note—it seems The voice of hope and dauntless will, And breaks the spell of dreams.
Hamlin Garland [1860-
With rakish eye and plenished crop, Oblivious of the farmer's gun, Upon the naked ash-tree top The Crow sits basking in the sun.
An old ungodly rogue, I wot! For, perched in black against the blue, His feathers, torn with beak and shot, Let woeful glints of April through.
The year's new grass, and, golden-eyed, The daisies sparkle underneath, And chestnut-trees on either side Have opened every ruddy sheath.
But doubtful still of frost and snow, The ash alone stands stark and bare, And on its topmost twig the Crow Takes the glad morning's sun and air.
William Canton [1845-
TO THE CUCKOO
Hail, beauteous stranger of the grove! Thou messenger of Spring! Now Heaven repairs thy rural seat, And woods thy welcome ring.
What time the daisy decks the green, Thy certain voice we hear: Hast thou a star to guide thy path, Or mark the rolling year?
Delightful visitant! with thee I hail the time of flowers, And hear the sound of music sweet From birds among the bowers.
The school-boy, wandering through the wood To pull the primrose gay, Starts, the new voice of Spring to hear, And imitates thy lay.
What time the pea puts on the bloom, Thou fli'st thy vocal vale, An annual guest in other lands, Another Spring to hail.
Sweet bird! thy bower is ever green, Thy sky is ever clear; Thou hast no sorrow in thy song, No Winter in thy year!
O could I fly, I'd fly with thee! We'd make, with joyful wing, Our annual visit o'er the globe, Companions of the Spring.
John Logan [1748-1788]
We heard it calling, clear and low, That tender April morn; we stood And listened in the quiet wood, We heard it, ay, long years ago.
It came, and with a strange, sweet cry, A friend, but from a far-off land; We stood and listened, hand in hand, And heart to heart, my Love and I.
In dreamland then we found our joy, And so it seemed as 'twere the Bird That Helen in old times had heard At noon beneath the oaks of Troy.
O time far off, and yet so near! It came to her in that hushed grove, It warbled while the wooing throve, It sang the song she loved to hear.
And now I hear its voice again, And still its message is of peace, It sings of love that will not cease— For me it never sings in vain.
Frederick Locker-Lampson [1821-1895]
TO THE CUCKOO
O blithe New-comer! I have heard, I hear thee and rejoice. O Cuckoo! shall I call thee Bird, Or but a wandering Voice?
While I am lying on the grass Thy twofold shout I hear; From hill to hill it seems to pass, At once far off, and near.
Though babbling only to the Vale Of sunshine and of flowers, Thou bringest unto me a tale Of visionary hours.
Thrice welcome, darling of the Spring! Even yet thou art to me No bird, but an invisible thing, A voice, a mystery;
The same whom in my school-boy days I listened to; that Cry Which made me look a thousand ways, In bush, and tree, and sky.
To seek thee did I often rove Through woods and on the green; And thou wert still a hope, a love; Still longed for, never seen.
And I can listen to thee yet; Can lie upon the plain And listen, till I do beget That golden time again.
O blessed Bird! the earth we pace Again appears to be An unsubstantial, faery place; That is fit home for Thee!
William Wordsworth [1770-1850]
THE EAGLE A Fragment
He clasps the crag with crooked hands; Close to the sun in lonely lands, Ringed with the azure world, he stands.
The wrinkled sea beneath him crawls; He watches from his mountain walls, And like a thunderbolt he falls.
Alfred Tennyson [1809-1892]
How sweetly on the autumn scene, When haws are red amid the green, The hawkbit shines with face of cheer, The favorite of the faltering year!
When days grow short and nights grow cold, How fairly gleams its eye of gold On pastured field and grassy hill, Along the roadside and the rill!
It seems the spirit of a flower, This offspring of the autumn hour, Wandering back to earth to bring Some kindly afterthought of spring.
A dandelion's ghost might so Amid Elysian meadows blow, Become more fragile and more fine Breathing the atmosphere divine.
Charles G. D. Roberts [1860-
O melancholy bird, a winter's day Thou standest by the margin of the pool, And, taught by God, dost thy whole being school To Patience, which all evil can allay. God has appointed thee the Fish thy prey; And given thyself a lesson to the Fool Unthrifty, to submit to moral rule, And his unthinking course by thee to weigh. There need not schools, nor the Professor's chair, Though these be good, true wisdom to impart; He, who has not enough for these to spare Of time, or gold, may yet amend his heart, And teach his soul, by brooks and rivers fair: Nature is always wise in every part.
Edward Hovell-Thurlow [1781-1829]
There is a bird, who by his coat, And by the hoarseness of his note, Might be supposed a crow; A great frequenter of the church, Where bishop-like he finds a perch, And dormitory too.
Above the steeple shines a plate, That turns and turns, to indicate From what point blows the weather; Look up—your brains begin to swim, 'Tis in the clouds—that pleases him, He chooses it the rather.
Fond of the speculative height, Thither he wings his airy flight, And thence securely sees The bustle and the raree-show, That occupy mankind below, Secure and at his ease.
You think, no doubt, he sits and muses On future broken bones and bruises, If he should chance to fall. No: not a single thought like that Employs his philosophic pate, Or troubles it at all.
He sees that this great roundabout, The world, with all its medley rout, Church, army, physic, law, Its customs, and its businesses Is no concern at all of his, And says—what says he?—"Caw."
Thrice happy bird! I too have seen Much of the vanities of men; And, sick of having seen 'em, Would cheerfully these limbs resign For such a pair of wings as thine, And such a head between 'em.
From the Latin of Vincent Bourne, by William Cowper [1731-1800]
THE GREEN LINNET
Beneath these fruit-tree boughs that shed Their snow-white blossoms on my head, With brightest sunshine round me spread Of Spring's unclouded weather, In this sequestered nook how sweet To sit upon my orchard-seat! And flowers and birds once more to greet, My last year's friends together.
One have I marked, the happiest guest In all this covert of the blest: Hail to Thee, far above the rest In joy of voice and pinion! Thou, Linnet! in thy green array Presiding Spirit here to-day Dost lead the revels of the May, And this is thy dominion.
While birds, and butterflies, and flowers Make all one band of paramours, Thou, ranging up and down the bowers, Art sole in thy employment; A Life, a Presence like the air, Scattering thy gladness without care, Too blest with any one to pair, Thyself thy own enjoyment.
Amid yon tuft of hazel trees, That twinkle to the gusty breeze, Behold him perched in ecstasies, Yet seeming still to hover; There! where the flutter of his wings Upon his back and body flings Shadows and sunny glimmerings, That cover him all over.
My dazzled sight he oft deceives— A Brother of the dancing leaves; Then flits, and from the cottage-eaves Pours forth his song in gushes, As if by that exulting strain He mocked and treated with disdain The voiceless Form he chose to feign While fluttering in the bushes.
William Wordsworth [1770-1850]
TO THE MAN-OF-WAR-BIRD
Thou who hast slept all night upon the storm, Waking renewed on thy prodigious pinions, (Burst the wild storm? above it thou ascended'st, And rested on the sky, thy slave that cradled thee,) Now a blue point, far, far in heaven floating, As to the light emerging here on deck I watch thee, (Myself a speck, a point on the world's floating vast.)
Far, far at sea, After the night's fierce drifts have strewn the shore with wrecks, With re-appearing day as now so happy and serene, The rosy and elastic dawn, the flashing sun, The limpid spread of air cerulean, Thou also re-appearest.
Thou born to match the gale, (thou art all wings,) To cope with heaven and earth and sea and hurricane, Thou ship of air that never furl'st thy sails, Days, even weeks untired and onward, through spaces, realms gyrating, At dusk that look'st on Senegal, at morn America, That sport'st amid the lightning-flash and thunder-cloud, In them, in thy experiences, hadst thou my soul, What joys! what joys were thine!
Walt Whitman [1819-1892]
THE MARYLAND YELLOW-THROAT
When May bedecks the naked trees With tassels and embroideries, And many blue-eyed violets beam Along the edges of the stream, I hear a voice that seems to say, Now near at hand, now far away, "Witchery—witchery—witchery."
An incantation so serene, So innocent, befits the scene: There's magic in that small bird's note— See, there he flits—the Yellow-throat; A living sunbeam, tipped with wings, A spark of light that shines and sings "Witchery—witchery—witchery."
You prophet with a pleasant name, If out of Mary-land you came, You know the way that thither goes Where Mary's lovely garden grows: Fly swiftly back to her, I pray, And try, to call her down this way, "Witchery—witchery—witchery!"
Tell her to leave her cockle-shells, And all her little silver bells That blossom into melody, And all her maids less fair than she. She does not need these pretty things, For everywhere she comes, she brings "Witchery—witchery—witchery!"
The woods are greening overhead, And flowers adorn each mossy bed; The waters babble as they run— One thing is lacking, only one: If Mary were but here to-day, I would believe your charming lay, "Witchery—witchery—witchery!"
Along the shady road I look— Who's coming now across the brook? A woodland maid, all robed in white— The leaves dance round her with delight, The stream laughs out beneath her feet— Sing, merry bird, the charm's complete, "Witchery—witchery—witchery!"
Henry Van Dyke [1852-1933]
LAMENT OF A MOCKING-BIRD
Silence instead of thy sweet song, my bird, Which through the darkness of my winter days Warbling of summer sunshine still was heard; Mute is thy song, and vacant is thy place.
The spring comes back again, the fields rejoice, Carols of gladness ring from every tree; But I shall hear thy wild triumphant voice No more: my summer song has died with thee.
What didst thou sing of, O my summer bird? The broad, bright, brimming river, whose swift sweep And whirling eddies by the home are heard, Rushing, resistless, to the calling deep.
What didst thou sing of, thou melodious sprite? Pine forests, with smooth russet carpets spread, Where e'en at noonday dimly falls the light, Through gloomy blue-green branches overhead.
What didst thou sing of, O thou jubilant soul? Ever-fresh flowers and never-leafless trees, Bending great ivory cups to the control Of the soft swaying, orange scented breeze.
What didst thou sing of, thou embodied glee? The wide wild marshes with their clashing reeds And topaz-tinted channels, where the sea Daily its tides of briny freshness leads.
What didst thou sing of, O thou winged voice? Dark, bronze-leaved oaks, with silver mosses crowned, Where thy free kindred live, love, and rejoice, With wreaths of golden jasmine curtained round.