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THE VOICE OF SPRING.
I come, I come! ye have called me long-
I come o'er the mountains with light and song!
Ye may trace my step o'er the wakening earth
By the winds which tell of the violet's birth,
By the primrose-stars in the shadowy grass,
By the green leaves opening as I pass.
I have breathed on the South, and the chestnut flowers
By thousands have burst from the forest-bowers ;
And the ancient graves and the fallen fanes
Are veiled with wreaths on Italian plains.
But it is not for me, in my hour of bloom,
To speak of the ruin or the tomb !
I have looked on the hills of the stormy North,
And the larch has hung all his tassels 2 forth;
The fisher is out on the sunny sea,
And the reindeer bounds o'er the pastures free ;
And the pine has a fringe of softer green,
And the moss looks bright where my foot hath been.
I have sent through the wood-paths a glowing sigh,
And called out each voice of the deep blue sky;
From the night-bird's lay through the starry time,
In the groves of the soft Hesperian 3 clime,
To the swan's wild note by the Iceland lakes,
When the dark fir-branch into verdure breaks.
From the streams and founts I have loosed the chain :
They are sweeping on to the silvery main ;
They are flashing down from the mountain brows,
They are flinging spray o'er the forest boughs :
They are bursting fresh from their sparry 4 caves,
And the earth resounds with the joy of waves !
Come forth, O ye children of gladness! come:
Where the violets lie may be now your home.
Ye of the rose-lip and dew-bright eye,
And the bounding footstep, to meet me fly !
With the lyre and the wreath and the joyous lay,
Come forth to the sunshine-I may not stay.
Away from the dwellings of care-worn men,
The waters are sparkling in grove and glen!
Away from the chamber and sullen hearth,
The young leaves are dancing in breezy mirth!
Their light stems thrill to the wild-wood strains,
And Youth is abroad in my green
But ye! Ye are changed since ye met me last !
There is something bright from your features passed !
There is that come over your brow and eye
Which speaks of a world where the flowers must die !
Ye smile ! but your smile hath a dimness yet.
Oh! what have you looked on since last we met ?
Ye are changed, ye are changed ! and I see not here
All whom I saw in the vanished year !
There were graceful heads, with their ringlets bright,
Which tossed in the breeze with a play of light;
There were eyes in whose glistening laughter lay
No faint remembrance of dull decay !
There were steps that flew o'er the cowslip's head,
As if for a banquet all earth were spread ;
There were voices that rang through the sapphire 5 sky,
And had not a sound of mortality ! 6
Are they gone ?
Is their mirth from the mountains
Ye have looked on death since ye met me last!
I know whence the shadow comes o'er you now;
Ye have strewn the dust on the sunny brow!
Ye have given the lovely to earth’s embrace-
She hath taken the fairest of beauty's race,
With their laughing eyes and their festal crown ;
They are gone from amongst you in silence down!
They are gone from amongst you, the young and fair;
Ye have lost the gleam of their shining hair !
But I know of a land where there falls no blight:
I shall find them there, with their eyes of light!
Where Death 'midst the blooms of the morn may
I tarry no longer-farewell, farewell!
The Summer is coming, on soft winds borne-
Ye may press the grape, ye may bind the corn!
me, I depart to a brighter shore-
Ye are marked by care ; ye are mine no more ;
I go where the loved who have left you dwell,
And the flowers are not Death's. Fare ye well, farewell!
1 Fanes, temples, churches.
2 Tassels, so called from the tassel-like
shape of the small bunches of
ge on the larch. 3 Hesperian, western.
4 Sparry, abounding in spar, a mineral
5 Sapphire, a brilliant blue colour.
6 Mortality, death.
O for a draught of vintage !1 that hath been
Cooled a long age in the deep-delvèd earth,
Tasting of Flora 2 and the country green,
Dance, and Provençal 3 song, and sunburnt mirth!
O for a beaker 4 full of the warm South,
Full of the true, the blushful Hippocrene,
With beaded bubbles winking at the brim
And purple-stainèd mouth;
That I might drink and leave the world unseen,
And with thee fade away into the forest dim:
Fade far away, dissolve, and quite forget
What thou among the leaves hast never known-
The weariness, the fever, and the fret,
Here, where men sit and hear each other groan ;
Where Palsy shakes a few, sad, last
Where Youth grows pale and spectre-thin, and dies ;
Where but to think is to be full of sorrow
And leaden-eyed despairs;
Where Beauty cannot keep her lustrous eyes,
Or new Love pine at them beyond to-morrow,
Away! away! for I will fly to thee,
Not charioted by Bacchus and his pards,
But on the viewless wings of Poesy,
Though the dull brain perplexes and retards :
Already with thee! tender is the night,
And haply the queen-moon is on her throne,
Clustered around by all her starry fays ;7
But here there is no light,
Save what from heaven is with the breezes blown
Through verdurous blooms and winding mossy ways.
Darkling I listen; and for many a time
I have been half in love with easeful Death ;
Called him soft names in many a musèd rhyme,
To take into the air my quiet breath :
Now more than ever seems it rich to die,
To cease upon the midnight with no pain,
While thou art pouring forth thy soul abroad
In such an ecstasy !
Still wouldst thou sing, and I have ears in vain-
To thy high requiem 8 become a sod!
Thou wast not born for death, immortal Bird !
No hungry generations tread thee down;
The voice I hear this passing night was heard
In ancient days by emperor and clown:
Perhaps the self-same song that found a path
Through the sad heart of Ruth o when, sick for home,
She stood in tears amid the alien corn ;
The same that oft-times hath
Charmed magic casements, opening on the foam
Of perilous seas, in faëry lands forlorn.
'Forlorn !' The very sound is like a bell
To toll me back from thee to my sole self :
Adieu ! the fancy cannot cheat so well
As she is famed to do, deceiving elf.
Adieu ! adieu ! Thy plaintive anthem fades
Past the near meadows, over the still stream,
Up the hill-side : and now, 'tis buried deep
In the next valley's glades :
Was it a vision, or a waking dream ?
Fled is that music !-Do I wake or sleep?