Dead? There is life within the mother’s
So claspeth she her young ones to her heart;—
“The time will come—the time will come—rest! rest!
Let the mad greybeard to his North depart;
Earth shall arise and mock him in his grave—
Patience a little, let the dotard rave!”
The palsied boughs grew still—there came
And Nature’s heart scarce beat for listening,
Gazing abroad from all the tempest-flaws,
With prayerful longing for the saviour Spring;
And when she heard Spring coming up the sky,
Earth rose and threw her shroud off joyfully.
Then she who once had wept like Niobe,
Beheld her children springing round her feet,
Raising young voices in the early day,
That never to her ear had seem’d so sweet;
And the soft murmur of a thousand rills
Proclaim’d how Spring had loosed them on the hills.
The bright Evangel came, girt round with mirth,
And garlanded with youth, and crown’d with flowers
“Awake! arise! ye sons of the new birth,
And move to the quick measure of the hours!
Summer is coming—go ye forth to meet her,
With sweetest hymeneal songs to greet her.”
So there arose straightway a joyous train,
Gather’d by every nook and hedgerow shade,
That in its passage o’er the verdant plain,
’Still in the heart a thrilling music made—
Sweet pilgrims they of Love in youth’s gay time,
Leading the year on to its golden prime.
The birds sang homage to her evermore;
And myriad winged things, whose radiant dyes
Made sunshine beautiful, still hover’d o’er,
And bore her witness in the sunlit skies;
And rising from the tomb in glad amaze,
Came many a sainted flower to hymn her praise.
Thus from the streams, and rivers, from the sea,
From the stirr’d bosom of the mighty hills,
From every glade there rose continually
A blessing for her, till with joyous thrills
Earth’s bosom heaved, and in man’s heart a voice
Echoed the anthem—“Spring is come! Rejoice!”
The reeds are idly waving o’er the marshy ground,
The rank and ragged herbage rots on many a mound,
And desolate pools and marshes deadly lie around.
There is no life nor motion, save the winds that fly
With the close-muffled clouds in silence through the sky,
There is no sound to stir it, save the Bittern’s cry;
The Bittern, sitting sadly on the fluted edges
Of pillars once the prop and pride of palace ledges,
Now smear’d with damp decay and sunk in slimy sedges;
Shatter’d and sunken, with the sculptured architrave
Peering above the surface of the sluggish wave,
Like a gaunt limb thrust fleshless from a shallow grave.
The Bittern sitteth sadly on the time-worn stone,
Upon life’s mouldering relics, fearfully alone,
Searing the silence ofttimes with his solemn tone.