The Arraying.

A poem by Denis Florence MacCarthy

The blue-eyed maidens of the sea
With trembling haste approach the lee,
So small and smooth, they seem to be
Not waves, but children of the waves,
And as each link`ed circle laves
The crescent marge of creek and bay,
Their mingled voices all repeat--
O lovely May! O long'd-for May!
We come to bathe thy snow-white feet.

We bring thee treasures rich and rare,
White pearl to deck thy golden hair,
And coral beads, so smoothly fair
And free from every flaw or speck;
That they may lie upon thy neck,
This sweetest day--this brightest day
That ever on the green world shone--
O lovely May, O long'd-for May!
As if thy neck and thee were one.

We bring thee from our distant home
Robes of the pure white-woven foam,
And many a pure, transparent comb,
Formed of the shells the tortoise plaits,
By Babelmandeb's coral-straits;
And amber vases, with inlay
Of roseate pearl time never dims--
O lovely May! O longed-for May!
Wherein to lave thine ivory limbs.

We bring, as sandals for thy feet,
Beam-broidered waves, like those that greet,
With green and golden chrysolite,
The setting sun's departing beams,
When all the western water seems
Like emeralds melted by his ray,
So softly bright, so gently warm--
O lovely May! O long'd-for May!
That thou canst trust thy tender form.

And lo! the ladies of the hill,
The rippling stream, and sparkling rill,
With rival speed, and like good will,
Come, bearing down the mountain's side
The liquid crystals of the tide,
In vitreous vessels clear as they,
And cry, from each worn, winding path:
O lovely May! O long'd-for May!
We come to lead thee to the bath.

And we have fashioned, for thy sake,
Mirrors more bright than art could make--
The silvery-sheeted mountain lake
Hangs in its carv`ed frame of rocks,
Wherein to dress thy dripping locks,
Or bind the dewy curls that stray
Thy trembling breast meandering down--
O lovely May! O long'd-for May!
Within their self-woven crown.

Arise, O May! arise and see
Thine emerald robes are held for thee
By many a hundred-handed tree,
Who lift from all the fields around
The verdurous velvet from the ground,
And then the spotless vestments lay,
Smooth-folded o'er their outstretch'd arms--
O lovely May! O long'd-for May!
Wherein to fold thy virgin charms.

Thy robes are stiff with golden bees,
Dotted with gems more bright than these,
And scented by each perfumed breeze
That, blown from heaven's re-open'd bowers,
Become the souls of new-born flowers,
Who thus their sacred birth betray;
Heavenly thou art, nor less should be--
O lovely May! O long'd-for May!
The favour'd forms that wait on thee.

The moss to guard thy feet is spread,
The wreaths are woven for thy head,
The rosy curtains of thy bed
Become transparent in the blaze
Of the strong sun's resistless gaze:
Then lady, make no more delay,
The world still lives, though spring be dead--
O lovely May! O long'd-for May!
And thou must rule and reign instead.

The lady from her bed arose,
Her bed the leaves the moss-bud blows
Herself a lily in that rose;
The maidens of the streams and sands
Bathe some her feet and some her hands:
And some the emerald robes display;
Her dewy locks were then upcurled,
And lovely May--the long'd-for May--
Was crown'd the Queen of all the World!

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