William Michael Rossetti

(1829-1919 / England)

Fancies At Leisure - II


I. In Spring

The sky is blue here, scarcely with a stain
Of grey for clouds: here the young grasses gain
A larger growth of green over this splinter
Fallen from the ruin. Spring seems to have told Winter
He shall not freeze again here. Tho' their loss
Of leaves is not yet quite repaired, trees toss
Sprouts from their boughs. The ash you called so stiff
Curves, daily, broader shadow down the cliff.

II. In Summer

How the rooks caw, and their beaks seem to clank!
Let us just move out there,--(it might be cool
Under those trees,) and watch how the thick tank
By the old mill is black,--a stagnant pool
Of rot and insects. There goes by a lank
Dead hairy dog floating. Will Nature's rule
Of life return hither no more? The plank
Rots in the crushed weeds, and the sun is cruel.

III. The Breadth of Noon

Long time I lay there, while a breeze would blow
From the south softly, and, hard by, a slender
Poplar swayed to and fro to it. Surrender
Was made of all myself to quiet. No
Least thought was in my mind of the least woe:
Yet the void silence slowly seemed to render
My calmness not less calm, but yet more tender,
And I was nigh to weeping.--'Ere I go,'
I thought, 'I must make all this stillness mine;
The sky's blue almost purple, and these three
Hills carved against it, and the pine on pine
The wood in their shade has. All this I see
So inwardly I fancy it may be
Seen thus of parted souls by _their_ sunshine.'

IV. Sea-Freshness

Look at that crab there. See if you can't haul
His backward progress to this spar of a ship
Thrown up and sunk into the sand here. Clip
His clipping feelers hard, and give him all
Your hand to gripe at: he'll take care not fall:
So,--but with heed, for you are like to slip
In stepping on the plank's sea-slime. Your lip--
No wonder--curves in mirth at the slow drawl
Of the squat creature's legs. We've quite a shine
Of waves round us, and here there comes a wind
So fresh it must bode us good luck. How long
Boatman, for one and sixpence? Line by line
The sea comes toward us sun-ridged. Oh! we sinned
Taking the crab out: let's redress his wrong.

V. The Fire Smouldering

I look into the burning coals, and see
Faces and forms of things; but they soon pass,
Melting one into other: the firm mass
Crumbles, and breaks, and fades gradually,
Shape into shape as in a dream may be,
Into an image other than it was:
And so on till the whole falls in, and has
Not any likeness,--face, and hand, and tree,
All gone. So with the mind: thought follows thought,
This hastening, and that pressing upon this,
A mighty crowd within so narrow room:
And then at length heavy-eyed slumbers come,
The drowsy fancies grope about, and miss
Their way, and what was so alive is nought.

Submitted: Friday, October 08, 2010

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