‘Spring-flowers’! While you still delay to take
Your leave of town,
Our elm-tree’s ruddy-hearted blossom-flake
Is fluttering down.
Be truer to your promise. There! I heard
Our cuckoo call.
Be needle to the magnet of your word,
Nor wait, till all
Our vernal bloom from every vale and plain
And garden pass,
And all the gold from each laburnum chain
Drop to the grass.
Is memory with your Marian gone to rest,
Dead with the dead?
For ere she left us, when we met, you prest
My hand, and said
‘I come with your spring-flowers.’ You came not, my friend;
My birds would sing,
You heard not. Take then this spring-flower I send,
This song of spring,
Found yesterday–forgotten mine own rhyme
By mine old self,
As I shall be forgotten by old Time,
Laid on the shelf–
A rhyme that flower’d betwixt the whitening sloe
And kingcup blaze,
And more than half a hundred years ago,
In rick-fire days,
When Dives loathed the times, and paced his land
In fear of worse,
And sanguine Lazarus felt a vacant hand
Fill with his purse.
For lowly minds were madden’d to the height
By tonguester tricks,
And once–I well remember that red night
When thirty ricks,
All flaming, made an English homestead hell–
These hands of mine
Have helpt to pass a bucket from the well
Along the line,
When this bare dome had not begun to gleam
Thro’ youthful curls,
And you were then a lover’s fairy dream,
His girl of girls;
And you, that now are lonely, and with Grief
Sit face to face,
Might find a flickering glimmer of relief
In change of place.
What use to brood? This life of mingled pains
And joys to me,
Despite of every Faith and Creed, remains
Let golden youth bewail the friend, the wife,
For ever gone.
He dreams of that long walk thro’ desert life
Without the one.
The silver year should cease to mourn and sigh–
Not long to wait–
So close are we, dear Mary, you and I
To that dim gate.
Take, read! and be the faults your Poet makes
Or many or few,
He rests content, if his young music wakes
A wish in you
To change our dark Queen-city, all her realm
Of sound and smoke,
For his clear heaven, and these few lanes of elm
And whispering oak.