36.2k
Caterpillar

Brown and furry
Caterpillar in a hurry,
Take your walk
To the shady leaf, or stalk,
Or what not,
Which may be the chosen spot.
No toad spy you,
Hovering bird of prey pass by you;
Spin and die,
To live again a butterfly.

Is the moon tired? she looks so pale
Within her misty veil:
She scales the sky from east to west,
And takes no rest.

Before the coming of the night
The moon shows papery white;
Before the dawning of the day
She fades away.

A Robin said: The Spring will never come,
  And I shall never care to build again.
A Rosebush said: These frosts are wearisome,
  My sap will never stir for sun or rain.
The half Moon said: These nights are fogged and slow,
I neither care to wax nor care to wane.
The Ocean said: I thirst from long ago,
  Because earth's rivers cannot fill the main.--
When Springtime came, red Robin built a nest,
  And trilled a lover's song in sheer delight.
  Grey hoarfrost vanished, and the Rose with might
  Clothed her in leaves and buds of crimson core.
The dim Moon brightened. Ocean sunned his crest,
  Dimpled his blue, yet thirsted evermore.

8.1k
Months

January cold desolate;
February all dripping wet;
March wind ranges;
April changes;
Birds sing in tune
To flowers of May,
And sunny June
Brings longest day;
In scorched July
The storm-clouds fly
Lightning torn;
August bears corn,
September fruit;
In rough October
Earth must disrobe her;
Stars fall and shoot
In keen November;
And night is long
And cold is strong
In bleak December.

What are heavy? sea-sand and sorrow:
What are brief? today and tomorrow:
What are frail? Spring blossoms and youth:
What are deep ? the ocean and truth.

5.2k
Jewels

An emerald is as green as grass;
  A ruby red as blood;
A sapphire shines as blue as heaven;
  A flint lies in the mud.

A diamond is a brilliant stone,
  To catch the world's desire;
An opal holds a fiery spark;
  But a flint holds fire.

It's a year almost that I have not seen her:
Oh, last summer green things were greener,
Brambles fewer, the blue sky bluer.

It's surely summer, for there's a swallow:
Come one swallow, his mate will follow,
The bird race quicken and wheel and thicken.

Oh happy swallow whose mate will follow
O'er height, o'er hollow! I'd be a swallow,
To build this weather one nest together.

Two doves upon the selfsame branch,
  Two lilies on a single stem,
Two butterflies upon one flower:--
  O happy they who look on them.

Who look upon them hand in hand
  Flushed in the rosy summer light;
Who look upon them hand in hand
  And never give a thought to night.

4.3k
He And She

"Should one of us remember,
  And one of us forget,
I wish I knew what each will do--
  But who can tell as yet?"

"Should one of us remember,
  And one of us forget,
I promise you what I will do--
And I'm content to wait for you,
  And not be sure as yet."

What is pink? a rose is pink
By the fountain's brink.
What is red? a poppy's red
In its barley bed.
What is blue? the sky is blue
Where the clouds float thro'.
What is white? a swan is white
Sailing in the light.
What is yellow? pears are yellow,
Rich and ripe and mellow.
What is green? the grass is green,
With small flowers between.
What is violet? clouds are violet
In the summer twilight.
What is orange? why, an orange,
Just an orange!

"And singing still dost soar, and soaring ever singest."


The earth was green, the sky was blue:
  I saw and heard one sunny morn
A skylark hang between the two,
  A singing speck above the corn;

A stage below, in gay accord,
  White butterflies danced on the wing,
And still the singing skylark soared
  And silent sank, and soared to sing.

The cornfield stretched a tender green
  To right and left beside my walks;
I knew he had a nest unseen
  Somewhere among the million stalks:

And as I paused to hear his song
  While swift the sunny moments slid,
Perhaps his mate sat listening long,
  And listened longer than I did.

4.1k
On Keats

A garden in a garden: a green spot
  Where all is green: most fitting slumber-place
  For the strong man grown weary of a race
Soon over. Unto him a goodly lot
Hath fallen in fertile ground; there thorns are not,
  But his own daisies: silence, full of grace,
  Surely hath shed a quiet on his face:
His earth is but sweet leaves that fall and rot.
What was his record of himself, ere he
  Went from us ? Here lies one whose name was writ
  In water: while the chilly shadows flit
    Of sweet Saint Agnes' Eve; while basil springs,
    His name, in every humble heart that sings,
Shall be a fountain of love, verily.

3.9k
Sappho

I sigh at day-dawn, and I sigh
When the dull day is passing by.
I sigh at evening, and again
I sigh when night brings sleep to men.
Oh!  it were far better to die
Than thus forever mourn and sigh,
And in death's dreamless sleep to be
Unconscious that none weep for me;
Eased from my weight of heaviness,
Forgetful of forgetfulness,
Resting from care and pain and sorrow
Thro' the long night that knows no morrow;
Living unloved, to die unknown,
Unwept, untended, and alone.

3.8k
The Rose

The lily has a smooth stalk,
  Will never hurt your hand;
But the rose upon her brier
  Is lady of the land.

There's sweetness in an apple tree,
  And profit in the corn;
But lady of all beauty
  Is a rose upon a thorn.

When with moss and honey
  She tips her bending brier,
And half unfolds her glowing heart,
  She sets the world on fire.

The half moon shows a face of plaintive sweetness
  Ready and poised to wax or wane;
A fire of pale desire in incompleteness,
  Tending to pleasure or to pain:--
Lo, while we gaze she rolleth on in fleetness
  To perfect loss or perfect gain.

Half bitterness we know, we know half sweetness;
  This world is all on wax, on wane:
When shall completeness round time's incompleteness,
  Fulfilling joy, fulfilling pain?--
Lo, while we ask, life rolleth on in fleetness
  To finished loss or finished gain.

"In the grave, whither thou goest."

O weary Champion of the Cross, lie still:
  Sleep thou at length the all-embracing sleep:
  Long was thy sowing day, rest now and reap:
Thy fast was long, feast now thy spirit's fill.
Yea, take thy fill of love, because thy will
  Chose love not in the shallows but the deep:
  Thy tides were springtides, set against the neap
Of calmer souls: thy flood rebuked their rill.
Now night has come to thee--please God, of rest:
  So some time must it come to every man;
  To first and last, where many last are first.
Now fixed and finished thine eternal plan,
  Thy best has done its best, thy worst its worst:
Thy best its best, please God, thy best its best.

Roses on a brier,
  Pearls from out the bitter sea,
Such is earth's desire
  However pure it be.

Neither bud nor brier,
  Neither pearl nor brine for me:
Be stilled, my long desire;
  There shall be no more sea.

Be stilled, my passionate heart;
  Old earth shall end, new earth shall be;
Be still, and earn thy part
  Where shall be no more sea.

The peacock has a score of eyes,
  With which he cannot see;
The cod-fish has a silent sound,
  However that may be;

No dandelions tell the time,
  Although they turn to clocks;
Cat's-cradle does not hold the cat,
  Nor foxglove fit the fox.

A diamond or a coal?
  A diamond, if you please:
Who cares about a clumsy coal
  Beneath the summer trees?

A diamond or a coal?
  A coal, sir, if you please:
One comes to care about the coal
  What time the waters freeze.

Weary and weak,--accept my weariness;
  Weary and weak and downcast in my soul,
With hope growing less and less,
  And with the goal
Distant and dim,--accept my sore distress.
I thought to reach the goal so long ago,
  At outset of the race I dreamed of rest,
Not knowing what now I know
  Of breathless haste,
  Of long-drawn straining effort across the waste.

One only thing I knew, Thy love of me;
  One only thing I know, Thy sacred same
Love of me full and free,
  A craving flame
Of selfless love of me which burns in Thee.
How can I think of thee, and yet grow chill;
  Of Thee, and yet grow cold and nigh to death?
Re-energize my will,
  Rebuild my faith;
  I will arise and run, Thou giving me breath.

I will arise, repenting and in pain;
  I will arise, and smite upon my breast
And turn to Thee again;
  Thou choosest best,
Lead me along the road Thou makest plain.
Lead me a little way, and carry me
  A little way, and listen to my sighs,
And store my tears with Thee,
  And deign replies
  To feeble prayers;--O Lord, I will arise.

3.3k
Summer

Winter is cold-hearted,
  Spring is yea and nay,
Autumn is a weathercock
  Blown every way:
Summer days for me
  When every leaf is on its tree;

When Robin's not a beggar,
  And Jenny Wren's a bride,
And larks hang singing, singing, singing,
  Over the wheat-fields wide,
  And anchored lilies ride,
And the pendulum spider
  Swings from side to side,

And blue-black beetles transact business,
  And gnats fly in a host,
And furry caterpillars hasten
  That no time be lost,
And moths grow fat and thrive,
And ladybirds arrive.

Before green apples blush,
  Before green nuts embrown,
Why, one day in the country
  Is worth a month in town;
  Is worth a day and a year
Of the dusty, musty, lag-last fashion
  That days drone elsewhere.

3.2k
A Triad

Three sang of love together: one with lips
  Crimson, with cheeks and bosom in a glow,
Flushed to the yellow hair and finger-tips;
  And one there sang who soft and smooth as snow
  Bloomed like a tinted hyacinth at a show;
And one was blue with famine after love,
  Who like a harpstring snapped rang harsh and low
The burden of what those were singing of.
One shamed herself in love; one temperately
  Grew gross in soulless love, a sluggish wife;
One famished died for love. Thus two of three
  Took death for love and won him after strife;
One droned in sweetness like a fattened bee:
  All on the threshold, yet all short of life.

While roses are so red,
  While lilies are so white,
Shall a woman exalt her face
  Because it gives delight?
She's not so sweet as a rose,
  A lily's straighter than she,
And if she were as red or white
  She'd be but one of three.

Whether she flush in love's summer
  Or in its winter grow pale,
Whether she flaunt her beauty
  Or hide it away in a veil,
Be she red or white,
  And stand she erect or bowed,
Time will win the race he runs with her
  And hide her away in a shroud.

Have you forgotten how one Summer night
  We wandered forth together with the moon,
  While warm winds hummed to us a sleepy tune?
Have you forgotten how you praised both light
And darkness; not embarrassed yet not quite
  At ease? and how you said the glare of noon
  Less pleased you than the stars? but very soon
You blushed, and seemed to doubt if you were right.
We wandered far and took no note of time;
  Till on the air there came the distant call
Of church bells: we turned hastily, and yet
Ere we reached home sounded a second chime.
  But what; have you indeed forgotten all?
Ah how then is it I cannot forget?

Remember, if I claim too much of you,
  I claim it of my brother and my friend:
  Have patience with me till the hidden end,
Bitter or sweet, in mercy shut from view.
Pay me my due; though I to pay your due
  Am all too poor and past what will can mend:
  Thus of your bounty you must give and lend
Still unrepaid by aught I look to do.
Still unrepaid by aught of mine on earth:
  But overpaid, please God, when recompense
Beyond the mystic Jordan and new birth
  Is dealt to virtue as to innocence;
When Angels singing praises in their mirth
  Have borne you in their arms and fetched you hence.

"O ye, all ye that walk in Willowwood."
D.G. Rossetti

Two gazed into a pool, he gazed and she,
  Not hand in hand, yet heart in heart, I think,
  Pale and reluctant on the water's brink,
As on the brink of parting which must be.
Each eyed the other's aspect, she and he,
  Each felt one hungering heart leap up and sink,
  Each tasted bitterness which both must drink,
There on the brink of life's dividing sea.
Lilies upon the surface, deep below
  Two wistful faces craving each for each,
    Resolute and reluctant without speech:--
A sudden ripple made the faces flow
  One moment joined, to vanish out of reach:
    So those hearts joined, and ah! were parted so.

How many seconds in a minute?
Sixty, and no more in it.

How many minutes in an hour?
Sixty for sun and shower.

How many hours in a day?
Twenty-four for work and play.

How many days in a week?
Seven both to hear and speak.

How many weeks in a month?
Four, as the swift moon runn'th.

How many months in a year?
Twelve the almanack makes clear.

How many years in an age?
One hundred says the sage.

How many ages in time?
No one knows the rhyme.

O roses for the flush of youth,
  And laurel for the perfect prime;
But pluck an ivy branch for me
  Grown old before my time.

O violets for the grave of youth,
  And bay for those dead in their prime;
Give me the withered leaves I chose
  Before in the old time.

2.5k
A Pin

A pin has a head, but has no hair;
A clock has a face, but no mouth there;
Needles have eyes, but they cannot see;
A fly has a trunk without lock or key;
A timepiece may lose, but cannot win;
A corn-field dimples without a chin;
A hill has no leg, but has a foot;
A wine-glass a stem, but not a root;
A watch has hands, but no thumb or finger;
A boot has a tongue, but is no singer;
Rivers run, though they have no feet;
A saw has teeth, but it does not eat;
Ash-trees have keys, yet never a lock;
And baby crows, without being a cock.

2.4k
Confluents

As rivers seek the sea,
  Much more deep than they,
So my soul seeks thee
  Far away:
As running rivers moan
On their course alone
  So I moan
  Left alone.

As the delicate rose
  To the sun's sweet strength
Doth herself unclose,
  Breadth and length:
So spreads my heart to thee
Unveiled utterly,
  I to thee
  Utterly.

As morning dew exhales
  Sunwards pure and free,
So my spirit fails
  After thee:
As dew leaves not a trace
On the green earth's face;
  I, no trace
  On thy face.

Its goal the river knows,
  Dewdrops find a way,
Sunlight cheers the rose
  In her day:
Shall I, lone sorrow past,
Find thee at the last?
  Sorrow past,
  Thee at last?

Flowers preach to us if we will hear:--
The rose saith in the dewy morn,
I am most fair;
Yet all my loveliness is born
Upon a thorn.
The poppy saith amid the corn:
Let but my scarlet head appear
And I am held in scorn;
Yet juice of subtle virtue lies
Within my cup of curious dyes.
The lilies say: Behold how we
Preach without words of purity.
The violets whisper from the shade
Which their own leaves have made:
Men scent our fragrance on the air,
Yet take no heed
Of humble lessons we would read.

But not alone the fairest flowers:
The merest grass
Along the roadside where we pass,
Lichen and moss and sturdy weed,
Tell of His love who sends the dew,
The rain and sunshine too,
To nourish one small seed.

Hopping frog, hop here and be seen,
  I'll not pelt you with stick or stone:
Your cap is laced and your coat is green;
  Good bye, we'll let each other alone.

Plodding toad, plod here and be looked at,
  You the finger of scorn is crooked at:
But though you're lumpish, you're harmless too;
  You won't hurt me, and I won't hurt you.

2.4k
The World

By day she wooes me, soft, exceeding fair:
  But all night as the moon so changeth she;
  Loathsome and foul with hideous leprosy,
And subtle serpents gliding in her hair.
By day she wooes me to the outer air,
  Ripe fruits, sweet flowers, and full satiety:
  But through the night, a beast she grins at me,
A very monster void of love and prayer.
By day she stands a lie: by night she stands,
  In all the naked horror of the truth,
With pushing horns and clawed and clutching hands.
Is this a friend indeed; that I should sell
  My soul to her, give her my life and youth,
Till my feet, cloven too, take hold on hell?

"Sweet, thou art pale."
      "More pale to see,
Christ hung upon the cruel tree
And bore His Father's wrath for me."

"Sweet, thou art sad."
      "Beneath a rod
More heavy, Christ for my sake trod
The winepress of the wrath of God."

"Sweet, thou art weary."
      "Not so Christ:
Whose mighty love of me suffic'd
For Strength, Salvation, Eucharist."

"Sweet, thou art footsore."
      "If I bleed,
His feet have bled; yea in my need
His Heart once bled for mine indeed."

PERSONIFICATIONS.

Boys.            Girls.
  January.                February.
  March.                  April.
  July.                   May.
  August.                 June.
  October.                September.
  December.               November.

  Robin Redbreasts; Lambs and Sheep; Nightingale and
  Nestlings.

  Various Flowers, Fruits, etc.

  Scene: A Cottage with its Grounds.


[A room in a large comfortable cottage; a fire burning on
the hearth; a table on which the breakfast things have
been left standing. January discovered seated by the
fire.]


          January.

Cold the day and cold the drifted snow,
Dim the day until the cold dark night.

                    [Stirs the fire.

Crackle, sparkle, fagot; embers glow:
Some one may be plodding through the snow
Longing for a light,
For the light that you and I can show.
If no one else should come,
Here Robin Redbreast's welcome to a crumb,
And never troublesome:
Robin, why don't you come and fetch your crumb?


  Here's butter for my hunch of bread,
    And sugar for your crumb;
  Here's room upon the hearthrug,
    If you'll only come.

  In your scarlet waistcoat,
    With your keen bright eye,
  Where are you loitering?
    Wings were made to fly!

  Make haste to breakfast,
    Come and fetch your crumb,
  For I'm as glad to see you
    As you are glad to come.


[Two Robin Redbreasts are seen tapping with their beaks at
the lattice, which January opens. The birds flutter in,
hop about the floor, and peck up the crumbs and sugar
thrown to them. They have scarcely finished their meal,
when a knock is heard at the door. January hangs a
guard in front of the fire, and opens to February, who
appears with a bunch of snowdrops in her hand.]

          January.

Good-morrow, sister.

          February.

            Brother, joy to you!
I've brought some snowdrops; only just a few,
But quite enough to prove the world awake,
Cheerful and hopeful in the frosty dew
And for the pale sun's sake.

[She hands a few of her snowdrops to January, who retires
into the background. While February stands arranging
the remaining snowdrops in a glass of water on the
window-sill, a soft butting and bleating are heard outside.
She opens the door, and sees one foremost lamb, with
other sheep and lambs bleating and crowding towards
her.]

          February.

O you, you little wonder, come--come in,
You wonderful, you woolly soft white lamb:
You panting mother ewe, come too,
And lead that tottering twin
Safe in:
Bring all your bleating kith and kin,
Except the horny ram.

[February opens a second door in the background, and the
little flock files through into a warm and sheltered compartment
out of sight.]

  The lambkin tottering in its walk
    With just a fleece to wear;
  The snowdrop drooping on its stalk
      So slender,--
  Snowdrop and lamb, a pretty pair,
  Braving the cold for our delight,
      Both white,
      Both tender.

[A rattling of doors and windows; branches seen without,
tossing violently to and fro.]

How the doors rattle, and the branches sway!
Here's brother March comes whirling on his way
With winds that eddy and sing.

[She turns the handle of the door, which bursts open, and
discloses March hastening up, both hands full of violets
and anemones.]

          February.

Come, show me what you bring;
For I have said my say, fulfilled my day,
And must away.

          March.

[Stopping short on the threshold.]

    I blow an arouse
    Through the world's wide house
  To quicken the torpid earth:
    Grappling I fling
    Each feeble thing,
  But bring strong life to the birth.
    I wrestle and frown,
    And topple down;
  I wrench, I rend, I uproot;
    Yet the violet
    Is born where I set
  The sole of my flying foot,

[Hands violets and anemones to February, who retires into
the background.]

    And in my wake
    Frail wind-flowers quake,
  And the catkins promise fruit.
    I drive ocean ashore
    With rush and roar,
  And he cannot say me nay:
    My harpstrings all
    Are the forests tall,
  Making music when I play.
    And as others perforce,
    So I on my course
  Run and needs must run,
    With sap on the mount
    And buds past count
  And rivers and clouds and sun,
    With seasons and breath
    And time and death
  And all that has yet begun.

[Before March has done speaking, a voice is heard approaching
accompanied by a twittering of birds. April comes
along singing, and stands outside and out of sight to finish
her song.]

          April.

[Outside.]

  Pretty little three
  Sparrows in a tree,
    Light upon the wing;
    Though you cannot sing
    You can chirp of Spring:
  Chirp of Spring to me,
  Sparrows, from your tree.

  Never mind the showers,
  Chirp about the flowers
    While you build a nest:
    Straws from east and west,
    Feathers from your breast,
  Make the snuggest bowers
  In a world of flowers.

  You must dart away
  From the chosen spray,
    You intrusive third
    Extra little bird;
    Join the unwedded herd!
  These have done with play,
  And must work to-day.

          April.

[Appearing at the open door.]

Good-morrow and good-bye: if others fly,
Of all the flying months you're the most flying.

          March.

You're hope and sweetness, April.

          April.

            Birth means dying,
As wings and wind mean flying;
So you and I and all things fly or die;
And sometimes I sit sighing to think of dying.
But meanwhile I've a rainbow in my showers,
And a lapful of flowers,
And these dear nestlings aged three hours;
And here's their mother sitting,
Their father's merely flitting
To find their breakfast somewhere in my bowers.

[As she speaks April shows March her apron full of flowers
and nest full of birds. March wanders away into the
grounds. April, without entering the cottage, hangs over
the hungry nestlings watching them.]

          April.

  What beaks you have, you funny things,
    What voices shrill and weak;
  Who'd think that anything that sings
    Could sing through such a beak?
  Yet you'll be nightingales one day,
    And charm the country-side,
  When I'm away and far away
    And May is queen and bride.

[May arrives unperceived by April, and gives her a kiss.
April starts and looks round.]

          April.

Ah May, good-morrow May, and so good-bye.

          May.

That's just your way, sweet April, smile and sigh:
Your sorrow's half in fun,
Begun and done
And turned to joy while twenty seconds run.
I've gathered flowers all as I came along,
At every step a flower
Fed by your last bright shower,--

[She divides an armful of all sorts of flowers with April, who
strolls away through the garden.]

          May.

And gathering flowers I listened to the song
Of every bird in bower.
    The world and I are far too full of bliss
    To think or plan or toil or care;
      The sun is waxing strong,
      The days are waxing long,
        And all that is,
          Is fair.

    Here are my buds of lily and of rose,
    And here's my namesake-blossom, may;
      And from a watery spot
      See here forget-me-not,
        With all that blows
          To-day.

    Hark to my linnets from the hedges green,
    Blackbird and lark and thrush and dove,
      And every nightingale
      And cuckoo tells its tale,
        And all they mean
          Is love.

[June appears at the further end of the garden, coming slowly
towards May, who, seeing her, exclaims]

          May.

Surely you're come too early, sister June.

          June.

Indeed I feel as if I came too soon
To round your young May moon
And set the world a-gasping at my noon.
Yet come I must. So here are strawberries
Sun-flushed and sweet, as many as you please;
And here are full-blown roses by the score,
More roses, and yet more.

[May, eating strawberries, withdraws among the flower beds.]

          June.

The sun does all my long day's work for me,
  Raises and ripens everything;
I need but sit beneath a leafy tree
    And watch and sing.

[Seats herself in the shadow of a laburnum.

Or if I'm lulled by note of bird and bee,
  Or lulled by noontide's silence deep,
I need but nestle down beneath my tree
    And drop asleep.

[June falls asleep; and is not awakened by the voice of July,
who behind the scenes is heard half singing, half calling.]

          July.

     [Behind the scenes.]

Blue flags, yellow flags, flags all freckled,
Which will you take? yellow, blue, speckled!
Take which you will, speckled, blue, yellow,
Each in its way has not a fellow.

[Enter July, a basket of many-colored irises slung upon his
shoulders, a bunch of ripe grass in one hand, and a plate
piled full of peaches balanced upon the other. He steals
up to June, and tickles her with the grass. She wakes.]

          June.

What, here already?

          July.

                  Nay, my tryst is kept;
The longest day slipped by you while you slept.
I've brought you one curved pyramid of bloom,

                        [Hands her the plate.

Not flowers, but peaches, gathered where the bees,
As downy, bask and boom
In sunshine and in gloom of trees.
But get you in, a storm is at my heels;
The whirlwind whistles and wheels,
Lightning flashes and thunder peals,
Flying and following hard upon my heels.

[June takes shelter in a thickly-woven arbor.]

          July.

  The roar of a storm sweeps up
    From the east to the lurid west,
  The darkening sky, like a cup,
    Is filled with rain to the brink;

  The sky is purple and fire,
    Blackness and noise and unrest;
  The earth, parched with desire,
      Opens her mouth to drink.

  Send forth thy thunder and fire,
    Turn over thy brimming cup,
  O sky, appease the desire
    Of earth in her parched unrest;
  Pour out drink to her thirst,
    Her famishing life lift up;
  Make thyself fair as at first,
      With a rainbow for thy crest.

  Have done with thunder and fire,
    O sky with the rainbow crest;
  O earth, have done with desire,
    Drink, and drink deep, and rest.

[Enter August, carrying a sheaf made up of different kinds of
grain.]

          July.

Hail, brother August, flushed and warm
And scatheless from my storm.
Your hands are full of corn, I see,
As full as hands can be:

And earth and air both smell as sweet as balm
In their recovered calm,
And that they owe to me.

[July retires into a shrubbery.]

          August.

  Wheat sways heavy, oats are airy,
    Barley bows a graceful head,
  Short and small shoots up canary,
    Each of these is some one's bread;
  Bread for man or bread for beast,
      Or at very least
      A bird's savory feast.

  Men are brethren of each other,
    One in flesh and one in food;
  And a sort of foster brother
    Is the litter, or the brood,
  Of that folk in fur or feather,
      Who, with men together,
      Breast the wind and weather.

[August descries September toiling across the lawn.]

          August.

My harvest home is ended; and I spy
September drawing nigh
With the first thought of Autumn in her eye,
And the first sigh
Of Autumn wind among her locks that fly.

[September arrives, carrying upon her head a basket heaped
high with fruit]


          September.

Unload me, brother. I have brought a few
Plums and these pears for you,
A dozen kinds of apples, one or two
Melons, some figs all bursting through
Their skins, and pearled with dew
These damsons violet-blue.

[While September is speaking, August lifts the basket to the
ground, selects various fruits, and withdraws slowly along
the gravel walk, eating a pear as he goes.]

          September.

    My song is half a sigh
    Because my green leaves die;
Sweet are my fruits, but all my leaves are dying;
    And well may Autumn sigh,
      And well may I
  Who watch the sere leaves flying.

    My leaves that fade and fall,
    I note you one and all;
I call you, and the Autumn wind is calling,
    Lamenting for your fall,
      And for the pall
  You spread on earth in falling.

And here's a song of flowers to suit such hours:
A song of the last lilies, the last flowers,
Amid my withering bowers.

    In the sunny garden bed
      Lilies look so pale,
    Lilies droop the head
      In the shady grassy vale;
    If all alike they pine
    In shade and in shine,
    If everywhere they grieve,
    Where will lilies live?

[October enters briskly, some leafy twigs bearing different
sorts of nuts in one hand, and a long ripe hop-bine trailing
after him from the other. A dahlia is stuck in his
buttonhole.]

          October.

Nay, cheer up, sister. Life is not quite over,
Even if the year has done with corn and clover,
With flowers and leaves; besides, in fact it's true,
Some leaves remain and some flowers too.
For me and you.
Now see my crops:

            [Offering his produce to September.

            I've brought you nuts and hops;
And when the leaf drops, why, the walnut drops.


[October wreaths the hop-bine about September's neck, and
gives her the nut twigs. They enter the cottage together,
but without shutting the door. She steps into the background:
he advances to the hearth, removes the guard,
stirs up the smouldering fire, and arranges several chestnuts
ready to roast.]

          October.

Crack your first nut and light your first fire,
  Roast your first chestnut crisp on the bar;
Make the logs sparkle, stir the blaze higher;
  Logs are cheery as sun or as star,
  Logs we can find wherever we are.

Spring one soft day will open the leaves,
  Spring one bright day will lure back the flowers;
Never fancy my whistling wind grieves,
  Never fancy I've tears in my showers;
  Dance, nights and days! and dance on, my hours!

            [Sees November approaching.

          October.

Here comes my youngest sister, looking dim
And grim,
With dismal ways.
What cheer, November?

          November.

[Entering and shutting the door.]

Nought have I to bring,
Tramping a-chill and shivering,
Except these pine-cones for a blaze,--
Except a fog which follows,
And stuffs up all the hollows,--
Except a hoar frost here and there,--
Except some shooting stars
Which dart their luminous cars
Trackless and noiseless through the keen night air.

[October, shrugging his shoulders, withdraws into the background,
while November throws her pine cones on the
fire, and sits down listlessly.]

          November.

The earth lies fast asleep, grown tired
  Of all that's high or deep;
There's nought desired and nought required
    Save a sleep.

I rock the cradle of the earth,
  I lull her with a sigh;
And know that she will wake to mirth
    By and by.

[Through the window December is seen running and leaping
in the direction of the door. He knocks.]

          November.

[Calls out without rising.]

Ah, here's my youngest brother come at last:
Come in, December.

[He opens the door and enters, loaded with evergreens in
berry, etc.]

          November.

            Come, and shut the door,
For now it's snowing fast;
It snows, and will snow more and more;
Don't let it drift in on the floor.
But you, you're all aglow; how can you be
Rosy and warm and smiling in the cold?

          December.

Nay, no closed doors for me,
But open doors and open hearts and glee
To welcome young and old.

  Dimmest and brightest month am I;
My short days end, my lengthening days begin;
What matters more or less sun in the sky,
    When all is sun within?

               [He begins making a wreath as he sings.

  Ivy and privet dark as night,
I weave with hips and haws a cheerful show,
And holly for a beauty and delight,
    And milky mistletoe.

  While high above them all I set
Yew twigs and Christmas roses pure and pale;
Then Spring her snowdrop and her violet
    May keep, so sweet and frail;

  May keep each merry singing bird,
Of all her happy birds that singing build:
For I've a carol which some shepherds heard
    Once in a wintry field.

[While December concludes his song all the other Months
troop in from the garden, or advance out of the background.
The Twelve join hands in a circle, and begin
dancing round to a stately measure as the Curtain falls.]

2.1k
Color

What is pink? a rose is pink
By a fountain's brink.
What is red? a poppy's red
In its barley bed.
What is blue? the sky is blue
Where the clouds float thro'.
What is white? a swan is white
Sailing in the light.
What is yellow? pears are yellow,
Rich and ripe and mellow.
What is green? the grass is green,
With small flowers between.
What is violet? clouds are violet
In the summer twilight.
What is orange? Why, an orange,
Just an orange!

Never on this side of the grave again,
  On this side of the river,
On this side of the garner of the grain,
            Never,--

Ever while time flows on and on and on,
  That narrow noiseless river,
Ever while corn bows heavy-headed, wan,
            Ever,--

Never despairing, often fainting, ruing,
  But looking back, ah never!
Faint yet pursuing, faint yet still pursuing
            Ever.

The sunrise wakes the lark to sing,
  The moonrise wakes the nightingale.
Come darkness, moonrise, every thing
  That is so silent, sweet, and pale:
  Come, so ye wake the nightingale.

Make haste to mount, thou wistful moon,
  Make haste to wake the nightingale:
Let silence set the world in tune
To hearken to that wordless tale
Which warbles from the nightingale

O herald skylark, stay thy flight
  One moment, for a nightingale
Floods us with sorrow and delight.
  To-morrow thou shalt hoist the sail;
  Leave us to-night the nightingale.

(1674.)


I have desired, and I have been desired;
  But now the days are over of desire,
  Now dust and dying embers mock my fire;
Where is the hire for which my life was hired?
  Oh vanity of vanities, desire!

Longing and love, pangs of a perished pleasure,
  Longing and love, a disenkindled fire,
  And memory a bottomless gulf of mire,
And love a fount of tears outrunning measure;
  Oh vanity of vanities, desire!

Now from my heart, love's deathbed, trickles, trickles,
  Drop by drop slowly, drop by drop of fire,
  The dross of life, of love, of spent desire;
Alas, my rose of life gone all to prickles,--
  Oh vanity of vanities, desire!

Oh vanity of vanities, desire;
  Stunting my hope which might have strained up higher,
  Turning my garden plot to barren mire;
Oh death-struck love, oh disenkindled fire,
  Oh vanity of vanities, desire!

Sleep, little Baby, sleep,
The holy Angels love thee,
And guard thy bed, and keep
A blessed watch above thee.
No spirit can come near
Nor evil beast to harm thee:
Sleep, Sweet, devoid of fear
Where nothing need alarm thee.

The Love which doth not sleep,
The eternal arms around thee:
The shepherd of the sheep
In perfect love has found thee.
Sleep through the holy night,
Christ-kept from snare and sorrow,
Until thou wake to light
And love and warmth to-morrow.

I wonder if the sap is stirring yet,
If wintry birds are dreaming of a mate,
If frozen snowdrops feel as yet the sun
And crocus fires are kindling one by one:
Sing, robin, sing;
I still am sore in doubt concerning Spring.

I wonder if the springtide of this year
Will bring another Spring both lost and dear;
If heart and spirit will find out their Spring,
Or if the world alone will bud and sing:
Sing, hope, to me;
Sweet notes, my hope, soft notes for memory.

The sap will surely quicken soon or late,
The tardiest bird will twitter to a mate;
So Spring must dawn again with warmth and
bloom,
Or in this world, or in the world to come:
Sing, voice of Spring,
Till I too blossom and rejoice and sing.

"Now did you mark a falcon,
  Sister dear, sister dear,
Flying toward my window
  In the morning cool and clear?
With jingling bells about her neck,
  But what beneath her wing?
It may have been a ribbon,
  Or it may have been a ring."--
      "I marked a falcon swooping
        At the break of day:
      And for your love, my sister dove,
        I 'frayed the thief away."--

"Or did you spy a ruddy hound,
  Sister fair and tall,
Went snuffing round my garden bound,
  Or crouched by my bower wall?
With a silken leash about his neck;
  But in his mouth may be
A chain of gold and silver links,
  Or a letter writ to me."--
      "I heard a hound, high-born sister,
        Stood baying at the moon:
      I rose and drove him from your wall
        Lest you should wake too soon."--

"Or did you meet a pretty page
  Sat swinging on the gate;
Sat whistling, whistling like a bird,
  Or may be slept too late:
With eaglets broidered on his cap,
  And eaglets on his glove?
If you had turned his pockets out,
  You had found some pledge of love."--
      "I met him at this daybreak,
        Scarce the east was red:
      Lest the creaking gate should anger you,
        I packed him home to bed."--

"O patience, sister. Did you see
  A young man tall and strong,
Swift-footed to uphold the right
  And to uproot the wrong,
Come home across the desolate sea
  To woo me for his wife?
And in his heart my heart is locked,
  And in his life my life."--
      "I met a nameless man, sister,
        Who loitered round our door:
      I said: Her husband loves her much.
        And yet she loves him more."--

"Fie, sister, fie, a wicked lie,
  A lie, a wicked lie;
I have none other love but him,
  Nor will have till I die.
And you have turned him from our door,
  And stabbed him with a lie:
I will go seek him thro' the world
  In sorrow till I die."--
      "Go seek in sorrow, sister,
        And find in sorrow too:
      If thus you shame our father's name
        My curse go forth with you."

2.0k
Cobwebs

It is a land with neither night nor day,
Nor heat nor cold, nor any wind, nor rain,
Nor hills nor valleys; but one even plain
Stretches thro' long unbroken miles away:
While thro' the sluggish air a twilight grey
Broodeth; no moons or seasons wax and wane,
No ebb and flow are there among the main,
No bud-time no leaf-falling there for aye,
No ripple on the sea, no shifting sand,
No beat of wings to stir the stagnant space,
And loveless sea: no trace of days before,
No guarded home, no time-worn restingplace
No future hope no fear forevermore.

Give me the lowest place: not that I dare
  Ask for that lowest place, but Thou hast died
That I might live and share
  Thy glory by Thy side.

Give me the lowest place: or if for me
  That lowest place too high, make one more low
Where I may sit and see
  My God and love Thee so.

When I am dead, my dearest,
    Sing no sad songs for me;
Plant thou no roses at my head,
    Nor shady cypress tree:
Be the green grass above me
    With showers and dewdrops wet;
And if thou wilt, remember,
    And if thou wilt, forget.

I shall not see the shadows,
    I shall not feel the rain;
I shall not hear the nightingale
    Sing on, as if in pain:
And dreaming through the twilight
    That doth not rise nor set,
Haply I may remember,
    And haply may forget.

O Lady Moon, your horns point toward the east:
  Shine, be increased;
O Lady Moon, your horns point toward the west:
  Wane, be at rest.

Our Mothers, lovely women pitiful;
  Our Sisters, gracious in their life and death;
  To us each unforgotten memory saith:
"Learn as we learned in life's sufficient school,
Work as we worked in patience of our rule,
  Walk as we walked, much less by sight than faith,
  Hope as we hoped, despite our slips and scathe,
Fearful in joy and confident in dule."
I know not if they see us or can see;
  But if they see us in our painful day,
    How looking back to earth from Paradise
    Do tears not gather in those loving eyes?--
  Ah, happy eyes! whose tears are wiped away
Whether or not you bear to look on me.

While we slumber and sleep,
The sun leaps up from the deep,--
Daylight born at the leap,--
Rapid, dominant, free,
Athirst to bathe in the uttermost sea.

While we linger at play--
If the year would stand at May!--
Winds are up and away,
Over land, over sea,
To their goal, wherever their goal may be.

It is time to arise,
To race for the promised prize;
The sun flies, the wind flies,
We are strong, we are free,
And home lies beyond the stars and the sea.

Woman was made for man's delight,--
  Charm, O woman! Be not afraid!
His shadow by day, his moon by night,
  Woman was made.

Her strength with weakness is overlaid;
  Meek compliances veil her might;
Him she stays, by whom she is stayed.

World-wide champion of truth and right,
  Hope in gloom, and in danger aid,
Tender and faithful, ruddy and white,
  Woman was made.

A is the Alphabet, A at its head;
  A is an Antelope, agile to run.
B is the Baker Boy bringing the bread,
  Or black Bear and brown Bear, both begging for bun.

C is a Cornflower come with the corn;
  C is a Cat with a comical look.
D is a Dinner which Dahlias adorn;
  D is a Duchess who dines with a Duke.

E is an elegant eloquent Earl;
  E is an Egg whence an Eaglet emerges.
F is a Falcon, with feathers to furl;
  F is a Fountain of full foaming surges.

G is the Gander, the Gosling, the Goose;
  G is a Garnet in girdle of gold.
H is a Heartsease, harmonious of hues;
  H is a huge Hammer, heavy to hold.

I is an Idler who idles on ice;
  I am I--who will say I am not I?
J is a Jacinth, a jewel of price;
  J is a Jay, full of joy in July.

K is a King, or a Kaiser still higher;
  K is a Kitten, or quaint Kangaroo.
L is a Lute or a lovely-toned Lyre;
  L is a Lily all laden with dew.

M is a Meadow where Meadowsweet blows;
  M is a Mountain made dim by a mist.
N is a Nut--in a nutshell it grows--
  Or a Nest full of Nightingales singing--oh list!

O is an Opal, with only one spark;
  O is an Olive, with oil on its skin.
P is a Pony, a pet in a park;
  P is the Point of a Pen or a Pin.

Q is a Quail, quick-chirping at morn;
  Q is a Quince quite ripe and near dropping.
R is a Rose, rosy red on a thorn;
  R is a red-breasted Robin come hopping.

S is a Snow-storm that sweeps o'er the Sea;
  S is the Song that the swift Swallows sing.
T is the Tea-table set out for tea;
  T is a Tiger with terrible spring.

U, the Umbrella, went up in a shower;
  Or Unit is useful with ten to unite.
V is a Violet veined in the flower;
  V is a Viper of venomous bite.

W stands for the water-bred Whale;
  Stands for the wonderful Wax-work so gay.
X, or XX, or XXX is ale,
  Or Policeman X, exercised day after day.

Y is a yellow Yacht, yellow its boat;
  Y is the Yucca, the Yam, or the Yew.
Z is a Zebra, zigzagged his coat,
  Or Zebu, or Zoophyte, seen at the Zoo.

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The Complete Poems by Christina Rossetti