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Who shall sing simple ditty about the Willow,

Dainty-fine and delicate as any bending spray

That dandles high the dainty bird that flutters there to trill

Tremulously tender song of greeting to the May.

 

Bravest, too, of the trees!—none to match your daring,–

First of greens to greet the Spring and lead in leafy sheen,–

Aye, and you’re the last–almost into winter wearing

Still the leaf of loyalty–still the badge of green.

 

Ah, my lovely willow–let the water lilt your graces,–

They alone with limped kisses lave your leaves above,

Flashing back your silvan beauty, and in shady places

Peering up with glimmering pebbles, like the eyes of love.

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Hark, I hear a robin calling!

List, the wind is from the south!

And the orchard-bloom is falling

Sweet as kisses on the mouth.

 

In the dreamy vale of beeches

Fair and faint is woven mist,

And the river’s orient reaches

Are the palest amethyst.

 

Every limpid brook is singing

On the lure of April days;

Every piney glen is ringing

With the maddest roundelays.

 

Come and let us seek together

Springtime lore of daffodils,

Giving to the golden weather

Greeting on the sun-warm hills.

 

Ours shall be the moonrise stealing

Through the birches ivory-white;

Ours shall be the mystic healing

Of the velvet-footed night.

 

Ours shall be the gypsy winding

Of the path with violets blue,

Ours at last the wizard finding

Of the land where dreams come true.

 

Come, brothers, share the fellowship

We celebrate to-night;

There’s grace of song on every lip

And every heart is light!

But first, before our mentor chimes

The hour of jubilee,

Let’s drink a health to good old times,

And good times yet to be!

Clink, clink, clink!

Merrily let us drink!

There’s tore of wealth

And more of health

In every glass we think

Clink, clink, clink!

To fellowship we drink!

And from the bowl!

No genial soul

In such an hour can shrink.

 

And you, oh, friends from west and east

And other foreign parts,

Come share the rapture of our feast,

The love of loyal hearts;

And in the wassail that suspends

All matters burthensome,

We’ll drink a health to good old friends

And good friends yet to come.

Clink, clink, clink!

To fellowship we drink!

And from the bowl!

No genial soul

In such an hour will shrink.

Clink, clink, clink!

Merrily let us drink!

There’s fellowship

In every sip

Of friendship’s brew, we think.

 

Music I heard with you was more than music,

And bread I broke with you was more than bread;

Now that I am without you, all is desolate;

All that was once so beautiful is dead.

 

Your hands once touched this table and the silver,

And I have seen your fingers hold the glass.

These things do not remember you, beloved,

And yet your touch upon them will not pass.

 

For it was in my heart you moved among them,

And blessed them with your hands and with your eyes;

And in my heart they will remember always,-

They knew you once, O beautiful and wise.

There was a cherry-tree. Its bloomy snows

Cool even now the fevered sight that knows

No more its airy vision of pure joy–

As when you were a boy.

 

There was a cherry-tree. The Bluejay sat

His blue against its white–O blue as jet

He seemed there then!– But now– Whoever knew

He was so pale a blue!

 

There was a cherry-tree–our child-eyes saw

The miracle:–Its pure white snows did thaw

Into a crimson fruitage, far too sweet

But for a boy to eat.

 

There was a cherry-tree, give thanks and joy!—

There was a bloom of snow–There was a boy–

There was a bluejay of the realest blue–

And fruit for both of you.

It shouts in the sails of the ships at sea,

He steals the down from the honeybee,

He makes the forest trees rustle and sing,

He twirls my kite till it breaks its string.

Laughing, dancing, sunny wind,

Whistling, howling, rainy wind,

North, South, East and West,

Each is the wind I like the best.

He calls up the fog and hides the hills,

He whirls the wings of the great windmills,

The weathercocks love him and turn to discover

His whereabouts-but he’s gone, the rover!

Laughing, dancing, sunny wind,

Whistling, howling, rainy wind,

North, South, East and West,

Each is the wind I like best.

The pine trees toss him cones with glee,

The flowers bend low in courtesy,

Each wave flings up a shower of pearls,

The flag in front of school unfurls.

Laughing, dancing, sunny wind,

Whistling, howling, rainy wind,

North, South, East and West,

Each is the wind I like best.

I have been urged by earnest violins

And drunk their mellow sorrows to the slake

Of all my sorrows and my thirsting sins.

My heart has beaten for the brave drum’s sake.

Huge chords have wrought me mighty: I have hurled

Thuds of gods’  thunder. And with old winds pondered

Over the curse of this chaotic world,-

With low lost winds that maundered as they wandered.

 

I have been gay with trivial fifes that laugh;

And songs more sweet than possible things are sweet;

And gongs, and oboes. Yet I guessed not half

Life’s symphony till I had made hearts beat,

And touched Love’s body into trembling cries,

And blown my love’s lips into laughs and sighs.

Escape me?

Never—

Beloved!

While I am I, and you are you,

So long as the world contains us both,

Me the loving and you the loth

While the one eludes, must the other pursue.

My life is a fault at last, I fear:

It seems too much like a fate, indeed!

Though I do my best I shall scarce succeed.

But what if I fail of my purpose here?

It is but to keep the nerves at strain,

To dry one’s eyes and laugh at a fall,

And, baffled, get up and begin again,—

So the chase takes up one’s life, that’s all.

While, look but once from your farthest bound

At me so deep in the dust and dark,

No sooner the old hope goes to ground

Than a new one, straight to the self-same mark,

I shape me—

Ever

Removed!

And what is life? An hour-glass on the run,

A mist retreating from the morning sun,

A busy, bustling, self-repeated dream.

Its length? A minute’s pause, a moment thought.

And happiness? A bubble on the stream,

That in the act of seizing shrinks to nought.

 

And what is Hope? The puffing gale of morn,

That of its charms divests the dewy lawn,

And robs each flow’ret of its gem-and dies;

A cobweb, hiding disappointment’s thorn,

Which stings more keenly in thin disguise.

 

And what is Death? Is still the cause unfound?

That dark mysterious name of horrid sound?

A long and lingering sleep the weary crave.

And Peace? Where can its happiness abound?

Nowhere at all, save heaven and the grave.

 

Then what is Life? when stripped of its disguise,

A thing to be desired it cannot be;

Since everything that meets our foolish eyes

Gives proof sufficient of its vanity.

‘Tis but trial all must undergo,

To teach unthankful mortals how to prize

That happiness vain man’s denied to know,

Until he’s called to claim it the skies.

 

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.

I love thee to the depth and breadth and height

My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight

For the ends Being and ideal Grace.

I love thee to the level of every day’s

Most quiet need, by sun and candlelight.

I love thee freely, as men strive for Right;

I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise.

I love with a passion put to use

In my old griefs, and my childhood’s faith.

I love thee with a love I seemed to lose

With my lost saints,–I love thee with the breath,

Smiles, tears, of all my life!–and, if God, choose,

I shall but love thee better after death.

 

 

 

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