William Ellery Channing

(1818-1901 / the United States)

Tears In Spring (Lament For Thoreau) - Poem by William Ellery Channing

THE SWALLOW is flying over,
But he will not come to me;
He flits, my daring rover,
From land to land, from sea to sea;
Where hot Bermuda’s reef
Its barrier lifts to fortify the shore,
Above the surf’s wild roar
He darts as swiftly o’er,—
But he who heard his cry of spring
Hears that no more, heeds not his wing.

How bright the skies that dally
Along day’s cheerful arch,
And paint the sunset valley!
How redly buds the larch!
Blackbirds are singing,
Clear hylas ringing,
Over the meadow the frogs proclaim
The coming of Spring to boy and dame,
But not to me,—
Nor thee!

And golden crowfoot’s shining near,
Spring everywhere that shoots ’t is clear,
A wail in the wind is all I hear;
A voice of woe for a lover’s loss,
A motto for a travelling cross,—
And yet it is mean to mourn for thee,
In the form of bird or blossom or bee.

Cold are the sods of the valley to-day
Where thou art sleeping,
That took thee back to thy native clay;
Cold,—if above thee the grass is peeping
And the patient sunlight creeping,
While the bluebird sits on the locust-bough
Whose shadow is painted across thy brow,
And carols his welcome so sad and sweet
To the Spring that comes and Kisses his feet.

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Poem Submitted: Monday, September 6, 2010

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