Alfred Austin

(30 May 1835 – 2 June 1913 / Headingley)

The Passing Of Spring - Poem by Alfred Austin

Spring came out of the woodland chase,
With her violet eyes and her primrose face,
With an iris scarf for her sole apparel,
And a voice as blithe as a blackbird's carol.

As she flitted by garth and slipped through glade,
Her light limbs winnowed the wind, and made
The gold of the pollened palm to float
On her budding bosom and dimpled throat.

Then, brushing the nut-sweet gorse, she sped
Where the runnel lisps in its reedy bed,
O'er shepherded pasture and crested fallow,
And buskined her thigh with strips of sallow.

By the marigold marsh she paused to twist
The gold-green coils round her blue-veined wrist,
And out of the water-bed scooped the cresses,
And frolicked them round her braidless tresses.

She passed by the hazel dell, and lifted
The coverlet fern where the snow had drifted,
To see if it there still lingered on,
Then shook the catkins, and laughed, `'Tis gone!'

Through the crimson tips of the wintry brake
She peeped, and shouted, `Awake! Awake!'
And over the hill and down the hollow
She called, `I have come. So follow, follow!'

Then the windflower looked through the crumbling mould,
And the celandine opened its eyes of gold,
And the primrose sallied from chestnut shade,
And carried the common and stormed the glade.

In sheltered orchard and windy heath
The dauntless daffodils slipped their sheath,
And, glittering close in clump and cluster,
Dared norland tempests to blow and bluster.

Round crouching cottage and soaring castle
The larch unravelled its bright-green tassel;
In scrub and hedgerow the blackthorn flowered,
And laughed at the May for a lagging coward.

Then, tenderly ringing old Winter's knell,
The hyacinth swung its soundless bell,
And over and under and through and through
The copses there shimmered a sea of blue.

Like a sunny shadow of cloudlet fleeting,
Spring skimmed the pastures where lambs were bleating;
Along with them gambolled by bole and mound,
And raced and chased with them round and round.

To the cuckoo she called, `Why lag you now?
The woodpecker nests in the rotten bough;
The song-thrush pipes to his brooding mate,
And the thistlefinch pairs: you alone are late.'

Then over the seasonless sea he came,
And jocundly answered her, name for name,
And, falsely flitting from copse to cover,
Made musical mock of the jilted lover.

But with him there came the faithful bird
That lives with the stars, and is nightly heard
When the husht babe dimples the mother's breast,
And Spring said, sighing, `I love you best.

`For sweet is the sorrow that sobs in song
When Love is stronger than Death is strong,
And the vanished Past a more living thing
Than the fleeting voice and the fickle wing.'

Then the meadows grew golden, the lawns grew white,
And the poet-lark sang himself out of sight;
And English maidens and English lanes
Were serenaded by endless strains.

The hawthorn put on her bridal veil,
And milk splashed foaming in pan and pail;
The swain and his sweeting met and kissed,
And the air and the sky were amethyst.

`Now scythes are whetted and roses blow,'
Spring, carolling, said; `It is time to go.'
And though we called to her, `Stay! O stay!'
She smiled through a rainbow, and passed away.


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Poem Submitted: Thursday, April 8, 2010



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