Henry Van Dyke
Late Spring - Poem by Henry Van Dyke
Ah, who will tell me, in these leaden days,
Why the sweet Spring delays,
And where she hides, -- the dear desire
Of every heart that longs
For bloom, and fragrance, and the ruby fire
Of maple-buds along the misty hills,
And that immortal call which fills
The waiting wood with songs?
The snow-drops came so long ago,
It seemed that Spring was near!
But then returned the snow
With biting winds, and all the earth grew sere,
And sullen clouds drooped low
To veil the sadness of a hope deferred:
Then rain, rain, rain, incessant rain
Beat on the window-pane,
Through which I watched the solitary bird
That braved the tempest, buffeted and tossed,
With rumpled feathers, down the wind again.
Oh, were the seeds all lost
When winter laid the wild flowers in their tomb?
I searched their haunts in vain
For blue hepaticas, and trilliums white,
And trailing arbutus, the Spring's delight,
Starring the withered leaves with rosy bloom.
The woods were bare: and every night the frost
To all my longings spoke a silent nay,
And told me Spring was far and far away.
Even the robins were too cold to sing,
Except a broken and discouraged note, --
Only the tuneful sparrow, on whose throat
Music has put her triple finger-print,
Lifted his head and sang my heart a hint, --
"Wait, wait, wait! oh, wait a while for Spring!"
But now, Carina, what divine amends
For all delay! What sweetness treasured up,
What wine of joy that blends
A hundred flavours in a single cup,
Is poured into this perfect day!
For look, sweet heart, here are the early flowers,
That lingered on their way,
Thronging in haste to kiss the feet of May,
And mingled with the bloom of later hours, --
Anemonies and cinque-foils, violets blue
And white, and iris richly gleaming through
The grasses of the meadow, and a blaze
Of butter-cups and daisies in the field,
Filling the air with praise,
As if a silver chime of bells had pealed!
The frozen songs within the breast
Of silent birds that hid in leafless woods,
Melt into rippling floods
Of gladness unrepressed.
Now oriole and blue-bird, thrush and lark,
Warbler and wren and vireo,
Confuse their music; for the living spark
Of Love has touched the fuel of desire,
And every heart leaps up in singing fire.
It seems as if the land
Were breathing deep beneath the sun's caress,
Trembling with tenderness,
While all the woods expand,
In shimmering clouds of rose and gold and green,
To veil the joys too sacred to be seen.
Come, put your hand in mine,
True love, long sought and found at last,
And lead me deep into the Spring divine
That makes amends for all the wintry past.
For all the flowers and songs I feared to miss
Arrive with you;
And in the lingering pressure of your kiss
My dreams come true;
And in the promise of your generous eyes
I read the mystic sign
Of joy more perfect made
Because so long delayed,
And bliss enhanced by rapture of surprise.
Ah, think not early love alone is strong;
He loveth best whose heart has learned to wait:
Dear messenger of Spring that tarried long,
You're doubly dear because you come so late.
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