I too have strayed in pleasing toil
Along youth’s and fertile meads;
I too within Hope’s genial soil
Have, trusting, placed Love’s golden seeds;
I too have feared the chilling dew,
The heavy rain when thunder pealed,
Lest Fate might blight the flower that grew
For me in Hope’s green summer field.
Ah! who can paint that beauteous flower,
Thus nourished by celestial dew,
Thus growing fairer, hour by hour,
Delighting more, the more it grew;
Bright’ning, not burdening the ground,
Nor proud with inward worth concealed,
But scattering all its fragrance round
Its own sweet sphere, its summer field!
At morn the gentle flower awoke,
And raised its happy face to God;
At evening, when the starlight broke,
It bending sought the dewy sod;
And thus at morn, and thus at even,
In fragrant sighs its heart revealed,
Thus seeking heaven, and making heaven
Within its own sweet summer field!
Oh! joy beyond all human joy!
Oh! bliss beyond all earthly bliss!
If pitying Fate will not destroy
My hopes of such a flower as this!
How happy, fond, and heaven-possest,
My heart will be to tend and shield,
And guard upon my grateful breast
The pride of that sweet summer field!
The poet’s heart is a fatal boon,
And fatal his wondrous eye,
And the delicate ear,
So quick to hear,
Over the earth and sky,
Creation’s mystic tune!
Soon, soon, but not too soon,
Does that ear grow deaf and that eye grow dim,
And nature becometh a waste for him,
Whom, born for another sphere,
Misery hath shipwrecked here!
For what availeth his sensitive heart
For the struggle and stormy strife
That the mariner-man,
Since the world began
Has braved on the sea of life?
With fearful wonder his eye doth start,
When it should be fixed on the outspread chart
That pointeth the way to golden shores—
Rent are his sails and broken his oars,
And he sinks without hope or plan,
With his floating caravan.
And love, that should be his strength and stay,
Becometh his bane full soon,
Like flowers that are born
Of the beams at morn,
But die of their heat ere noon.
Far better the heart were the sterile clay
Where the shining sands of the desert play,
And where never the perishing flow’ret gleams
Than the heart that is fed with its wither’d dreams,
And whose love is repelled with scorn,
Like the bee by the rose’s thorn.
The summer is come!—the summer is come!
With its flowers and its branches green,
Where the young birds chirp on the blossoming boughs,
And the sunlight struggles between:
And, like children, over the earth and sky
The flowers and the light clouds play;
But never before to my heart or eye
Came there ever so sweet a May
Sweet May! sweet May!