IN THE WOODS WITH SHELLEY.

SING, happy nightingale, sing;

Past is the season of weeping;

Birds in the wood are on wing,

Lambs in the meadow are leaping.

Can there be any delight still in the buttercups sleeping?

Dawn, paler daffodil, dawn;

Smile, for the winter is over;

Sunlight makes golden the lawn,

Spring comes and kisses the clover;

All the wild woodlands await poet and songster and lover. {124B}

Linger, dew, linger and gem

All the fresh flowers in the garland;

Blossom, leaf, bud and green stem

Flash with your light to some far land,

Where men shall wonder if you be not a newly-born starland.

Ah! the sweet scents of the woods!

Ah! the sweet sounds of the heaven!

Sights of impetuous floods,

Foam like the daisy at even,

Folding o’er passionate gold petals that sunrise had riven!

See, like my life is the stream

Now its desire is grown quiet;

Life was a passionate dream

Once, where light fancy ran riot,

Now, ere youth fades, flows in peace past woody bank and green eyot.

Highest, white heather and rock,

Mountain and pine, with young laughter,

Breezes that murmur and mock

Duller delights to come after,

Wild as a swallow that dives whither the sea wind would waft her.

Lower, an ocean of flowers,

Trees that are warmer and leafier,

Starrier, sunnier hours

Spurning the stain of all grief here,

Bringing a quiet delight to us, beyond our belief, here.

Lastly, the uttermost sea,

Starred with flakes of spray sunlit,

Blue as its caverns that be

Crystal, resplendent, yet unlit;

So like a mother receives the kiss of the dainty-lip runlet.

Here the green moss is my seat,

Beech is a canopy o’er me,

Calm and content the retreat;

Man, my worst foe, cannot bore me;

Life is a closed book behind — Shelley an open before me. {125A}

Shelley’s own birds are above

Close to me (why should they fear me?)

May I believe it — that love

Brings his bright spirit so near me

That, should I whisper one word — Shelley’s swift spirit would hear me.

Heaven is not very far;

Soul unto soul may be calling

When a swift meteor star

Through the quick vista is falling.

Loose but your soul — shall its wings find the white way so appalling?

Heaven, as I understand,

Nearer than some folk would make it;

God — should you stretch out a hand,

Who can be quicker to take it?

Then you have pacted an oath — judge you if He will forsake it!

I have had hope in the spring —

Trust that the God who has given

Flowers, and the thrushes that sing

Dawnwards all night, and at even

Year after year, will be true now we are speaking of heaven.

Breezes caress me and creep

Over the world to admire it;

Sweet air shall sigh me to sleep,

Softly my lips shall respire it,

Lying half-closed with a kiss ready for who shall desire it.

 

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