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The Progress of Spring

    THE groundflame of the crocus breaks the mould,
    Fair Spring slides hither o'er the Southern sea,
    Wavers on her thin stem the snowdrop cold
    That trembles not to kisses of the bee:
    Come Spring, for now from all the dripping eaves
    The spear of ice has wept itself away,
    And hour by hour unfolding woodbine leaves
    O'er his uncertain shadow droops the day.
    She comes! The loosen'd rivulets run;
    The frost-bead melts upon her golden hair;
    Her mantle, slowly greening in the Sun,
    Now wraps her close, now arching leaves her bare
    To breaths of balmier air;

    Up leaps the lark, gone wild to welcome her,
    About her glance the tits, and shriek the jays,
    Before her skims the jubilant woodpecker,
    The linnet's bosom blushes at her gaze,
    While round her brows a woodland culver flits,
    Watching her large light eyes and gracious looks,
    And in her open palm a halcyon sits
    Patient -- the secret splendour of the brooks.
    Come Spring! She comes on waste and wood,
    On farm and field: but enter also here,
    Diffuse thyself at will thro' all my blood,
    And, tho' thy violet sicken into sere,
    Lodge with me all the year!

    Once more a downy drift against the brakes,
    Self-darken'd in the sky, descending slow!
    But gladly see I thro' the wavering flakes
    Yon blanching apricot like snow in snow.
    These will thine eyes not brook in forest-paths,
    On their perpetual pine, nor round the beech;
    They fuse themselves to little spicy baths,
    Solved in the tender blushes of the peach;
    They lose themselves and die
    On that new life that gems the hawthorn line;
    Thy gay lent-lilies wave and put them by,
    And out once more in varnish'd glory shine
    Thy stars of celandine.

    She floats across the hamlet. Heaven lours,
    But in the tearful splendour of her smiles
    I see the slow-thickening chestnut towers
    Fill out the spaces by the barren tiles.
    Now past her feet the swallow circling flies,
    A clamorous cuckoo stoops to meet her hand;
    Her light makes rainbows in my closing eyes,
    I hear a charm of song thro' all the land.
    Come, Spring! She comes, and Earth is glad
    To roll her North below thy deepening dome,
    But ere thy maiden birk be wholly clad,
    And these low bushes dip their twigs in foam,
    Make all true hearts thy home.

    Across my garden! and the thicket stirs,
    The fountain pulses high in sunnier jets,
    The blackcap warbles, and the turtle purrs,
    The starling claps his tiny castanets.
    Still round her forehead wheels the woodland dove,
    And scatters on her throat the sparks of dew,
    The kingcup fills her footprint, and above
    Broaden the glowing isles of vernal blue.
    Hail ample presence of a Queen,
    Bountiful, beautiful, apparell'd gay,
    Whose mantle, every shade of glancing green,
    Flies back in fragrant breezes to display
    A tunic white as May!

    She whispers, "From the South I bring you balm,
    For on a tropic mountain was I born,
    While some dark dweller by the coco-palm
    Watch'd my far meadow zoned with airy morn;
    From under rose a muffled moan of floods;
    I sat beneath a solitude of snow;
    There no one came, the turf was fresh, the woods
    Plunged gulf on gulf thro' all their vales below
    I saw beyond their silent tops
    The steaming marshes of the scarlet cranes,
    The slant seas leaning oll the mangrove copse,
    And summer basking in the sultry plains
    About a land of canes;

    "Then from my vapour-girdle soaring forth
    I scaled the buoyant highway of the birds,
    And drank the dews and drizzle of the North,
    That I might mix with men, and hear their words
    On pathway'd plains; for -- while my hand exults
    Within the bloodless heart of lowly flowers
    To work old laws of Love to fresh results,
    Thro' manifold effect of simple powers --
    I too would teach the man
    Beyond the darker hour to see the bright,
    That his fresh life may close as it began,
    The still-fulfilling promise of a light
    Narrowing the bounds of night."

    So wed thee with my soul, that I may mark
    The coming year's great good and varied ills,
    And new developments, whatever spark
    Be struck from out the clash of warring wills;
    Or whether, since our nature cannot rest,
    The smoke of war's volcano burst again
    From hoary deeps that belt the changeful West,
    Old Empires, dwellings of the kings of men;
    Or should those fail, that hold the helm,
    While the long day of knowledge grows and warms,
    And in the heart of this most ancient realm
    A hateful voice be utter'd, and alarms
    Sounding "To arms! to arms!"

    A simpler, saner lesson might he learn
    Who reads thy gradual process, Holy Spring.
    Thy leaves possess the season in their turn,
    And in their time thy warblers rise on wing.
    How surely glidest thou from March to May,
    And changest, breathing it, the sullen wind,
    Thy scope of operation, day by day,
    Larger and fuller, like the human mind,
    Thy warmths from bud to bud
    Accomplish that blind model in the seed,
    And men have hopes, which race the restless blood
    That after many changes may succeed
    Life, which is Life indeed.

    Alfred, Lord Tennyson

Come Into the Garden, Maud

    COME into the garden, Maud,
    For the black bat, Night, has flown,
    Come into the garden, Maud,
    I am here at the gate alone;
    And the woodbine spices are wafted abroad,
    And the musk of the roses blown.

    For a breeze of morning moves,
    And the planet of Love is on high,
    Beginning to faint in the light that she loves
    On a bed of daffodil sky,
    To faint in the light of the sun she loves,
    To faint in his light, and to die.

    All night have the roses heard
    The flute, violin, bassoon;
    All night has the casement jessamine stirr'd
    To the dancers dancing in tune:
    Till a silence fell with the waking bird,
    And a hush with the setting moon.

    I said to the lily, "There is but one
    With whom she has heart to be gay.
    When will the dancers leave her alone?
    She is weary of dance and play."
    Now half to the setting moon are gone,
    And half to the rising day;
    Low on the sand and loud on the stone
    The last wheel echoes away.

    I said to the rose, "The brief night goes
    In babble and revel and wine.
    O young lordlover, what sighs are those
    For one that will never be thine?
    But mine, but mine," so I sware to the rose,
    "For ever and ever, mine."

    And the soul of the rose went into my blood,
    As the music clash'd in the hall;
    And long by the garden lake I stood,
    For I heard your rivulet fall
    From the lake to the meadow and on to the wood,
    Our wood, that is dearer than all;

    From the meadow your walks have left so sweet
    That whenever a March-wind sighs
    He sets the jewelprint of your feet
    In violets blue as your eyes,
    To the woody hollows in which we meet
    And the valleys of Paradise.

    The slender acacia would not shake
    One long milk-bloom on the tree;
    The white lake-blossom fell into the lake,
    As the pimpernel dozed on the lea;
    But the rose was awake all night for your sake,
    Knowing your promise to me;
    The lilies and roses were all awake,
    They sigh'd for the dawn and thee.

    Queen rose of the rosebud garden of girls,
    Come hither, the dances are done,
    In gloss of satin and glimmer of pearls,
    Queen lily and rose in one;
    Shine out, little head, sunning over with curls,
    To the flowers, and be their sun.

    There has fallen a splendid tear
    From the passion-flower at the gate.
    She is coming, my dove, my dear;
    She is coming, my life, my fate;
    The red rose cries, "She is near, she is near;"
    And the white rose weeps, "She is late;"
    The larkspur listens, "I hear, I hear;"
    And the lily whispers, "I wait."

    She is coming, my own, my sweet;
    Were it ever so airy a tread,
    My heart would hear her and beat,
    Were it earth in an earthy bed;
    My dust would hear her and beat,
    Had I lain for a century dead;
    Would start and tremble under her feet,
    And blossom in purple and red.

    Alfred, Lord Tennyson


    MY FATHER left a park to me,
    But it is wild and barren,
    A garden too with scarce a tree,
    And waster than a warren:
    Yet say the neighbors when they call,
    It is not bad but good land,
    And in it is the germ of all
    That grows within the woodland.

    O had I lived when song was great
    In days of old Amphion,
    And ta'en my fiddle to the gate,
    Nor cared for seed or scion!
    And had I lived when song was great,
    And legs of trees were limber,
    And ta'en my fiddle to the gate,
    And fiddled in the timber!

    'Tis said he had a tuneful tongue,
    Such happy intonation,
    Wherever he sat down and sung
    He left a small plantation;
    Wherever in a lonely grove
    He set up his forlorn pipes,
    The gouty oak began to move,
    And flounder into hornpipes.

    The mountain stirr'd its bushy crown,
    And, as tradition teaches,
    Young ashes pirouetted down
    Coquetting with young beeches;
    And briony-vine and ivy-wreath
    Ran forward to his rhyming,
    And from the valleys underneath
    Came little copses climbing.

    The linden broke her ranks and rent
    The woodbine wreaths that bind her,
    And down the middle, buzz! she went
    With all her bees behind her:
    The poplars, in long order due,
    With cypress promenaded,
    The shock-head willows two and two
    By rivers gallopaded.

    Came wet-shod alder from the wave,
    Came yews, a dismal coterie;
    Each pluck'd his one foot from the grave,
    Poussetting with a sloe-tree:
    Old elms came breaking from the vine,
    The vine stream'd out to follow,
    And, sweating rosin, plump'd the pine
    From many a cloudy hollow.

    And wasn't it a sight to see,
    When, ere his song was ended,
    Like some great landslip, tree by tree,
    The country-side descended;
    And shepherds from the mountain-eaves
    Look'd down, half-pleased, half-frighten'd,
    As dash'd about the drunken leaves
    The random sunshine lighten'd!

    Oh, nature first was fresh to men,
    And wanton without measure;
    So youthful and so flexile then,
    You moved her at your pleasure.
    Twang out, my fiddle! shake the twigs
    And make her dance attendance;
    Blow, flute, and stir the stiff-set sprigs,
    And scirrhous roots and tendons.

    'Tis vain! in such a brassy age
    I could not move a thistle;
    The very sparrows in the hedge
    Scarce answer to my whistle;
    Or at the most, when three-parts-sick
    With strumming and with scraping,
    A jackass heehaws from the rick,
    The passive oxen gaping.

    But what is that I hear? a sound
    Like sleepy counsel pleading;
    O Lord! -- 'tis in my neighbor's ground,
    The modern Muses reading.
    They read Botanic Treatises,
    And Works on Gardening thro' there,
    And Methods of transplanting trees
    To look as if they grew there.

    The wither'd Misses! how they prose
    O'er books of travell'd seamen,
    And show you slips of all that grows
    From England to Van Diemen.
    They read in arbors clipt and cut,
    And alleys, faded places,
    By squares of tropic summer shut
    And warm'd in crystal cases.

    But these, tho' fed with careful dirt,
    Are neither green nor sappy;
    Half-conscious of the garden-squirt,
    The spindlings look unhappy.
    Better to me the meanest weed
    That blows upon its mountain,
    The vilest herb that runs to seed
    Beside its native fountain.

    And I must work thro' months of toil,
    And years of cultivation,
    Upon my proper patch of soil
    To grow my own plantation.
    I'll take the showers as they fall,
    I will not vex my bosom:
    Enough if at the end of all
    A little garden blossom.

    Alfred, Lord Tennyson

Flower in the Crannied Wall

    FLOWER in the crannied wall,
    I pluck you out of the crannies,
    I hold you here, root and all, in my hand,
    Little flower--but if I could understand
    What you are, root and all, all in all,
    I should know what God and man is.

    Alfred, Lord Tennyson

Now Sleeps the Crimson Petal

    from The Princess

    NOW sleeps the crimson petal, now the white;
    Nor waves the cypress in the palace walk;
    Nor winks the gold fin in the porphyry font.
    The firefly wakens; waken thou with me.

    Now droops the milk-white peacock like a ghost,
    And like a ghost she glimmers on to me.

    Now lies the Earth all DanaŽ to the stars,
    And all thy heart lies open unto me.

    Now slides the silent meteor on, and leaves
    A shining furrow, as thy thoughts in me.

    Now folds the lily all her sweetness up,
    And slips into the bosom of the lake.
    So fold thyself, my dearest, thou, and slip
    Into my bosom and be lost in me.

    Alfred, Lord Tennyson

Come Not, When I Am Dead

    COME not, when I am dead,
    To drop thy foolish tears upon my grave,
    To trample round my fallen head,
    And vex the unhappy dust thou wouldst not save.
    There let the wind sweep and the plover cry;
        But thou, go by.

    Child, if it were thine error or thy crime
    I care no longer, being all unblest:
    Wed whom thou wilt, but I am sick of time,
    And I desire to rest.
    Pass on, weak heart, and leave me where I lie;
        Go by, go by.

    Alfred, Lord Tennyson


    (For Music)

    WHAT sight so lured him thro' the fields he knew
    As where earth's green stole into heaven's own hue,

    What sound was dearest in his native dells?
    The mellow lin-lan-lone of evening bells

    What vague world-whisper, mystic pain or joy,
    Thro' those three words would haunt him when a boy,

    A whisper from his dawn of life? a breath
    From some fair dawn beyond the doors of death

    Far, far, how far? from o'er the gates of birth,
    The faint horizons, all the bounds of earth,

    What charm in words, a charm no words could give?
    O dying words, can Music make you live

    Alfred, Lord Tennyson

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