Ere the robin paints his breast,
Ere the daffodil is drest,
Ere the iris’ lovely head
Waves above her perfumed bed
Comes the crocus—and the Spring
Follows after, wing on wing!
Sweet perfection, holding up
Magic dew in topaz cup,
Curling lips which Earth has kissed,
Folded hearts where secrets hide,
Secrets old when Eve was bride!
Beauty’s soul was born with wings,
Flight inspires all lovely things—
Would you gather rainbow fire?
See the rose of dawn’s desire
Turn to ash beneath the moon?—
Crocuses must leave us soon.
“O sister, sister, from the casement leaning,
What sees thy tranced eye, what is the meaning
Of the strange rapture that thy features know?”
“I see,” she said, “the sunset’s crimson glow.”
“O sister, sister, from the casement turning,
What saw’st thou there save sunset’s sullen burning?
—Thy hand is ice, and fever lights thine eye!”
“I saw,” she said, “the twilight drifting by.”
“O sister, oft the sun hath set and often
Have we beheld the twilight fold and soften
The edge of day— In this no mystery lies!”
“I saw,” she said, “the crescent moon arise.”
“O sister, speak! I fear when on me falleth
Thine empty glance which some wild spell enthralleth!
—How chill the air blows through the open door!”
“I saw,” she said, “I saw”—and spake no more.
There’s not a leaf upon the tree
To show the sap is leaping,
There’s not a blade and not an ear
Escaped from winter’s keeping—
But there’s a something in the air
A something here, a something there,
A restless something everywhere—
A stirring in the sleeping!
A robin’s sudden, thrilling note!
And see—the sky is bluer!
The world, so ancient yesterday,
To-day seems strangely newer;
All that was wearisome and stale
Has wrapped itself in rosy veil—
The wraith of winter, grown so pale
That smiling spring peeps through her!
Wind-swept and fire-swept and swept with bitter rain,
This was the world I came to when I came across the sea—
Sun-drenched and panting, a pregnant, waiting plain
Calling out to humankind, calling out to me!
Leafy lanes and gentle skies and little fields all
This was the world I came from when I fared across the sea—
The mansion and the village and the farmhouse in between,
Never any room for more, never room for me!
I’ve fought the wind and braved it; I cringe
to it no more!
I’ve fought the creeping fire back and cheered to see it die.
I’ve shut the bitter rain outside and, safe within my door,
Laughed to think I feared a thing not so strong as I!