Maytime In Midwinter

A poem by Algernon Charles Swinburne

A new year gleams on us, tearful
And troubled and smiling dim
As the smile on a lip still fearful,
As glances of eyes that swim:
But the bird of my heart makes cheerful
The days that are bright for him.
Child, how may a man’s love merit
The grace you shed as you stand,
The gift that is yours to inherit?
Through you are the bleak days bland;
Your voice is a light to my spirit;
You bring the sun in your hand.
The year’s wing shows not a feather
As yet of the plumes to be;
Yet here in the shrill grey weather
The spring’s self stands at my knee,
And laughs as we commune together,
And lightens the world we see.
The rains are as dews for the christening
Of dawns that the nights benumb:
The spring’s voice answers me listening
For speech of a child to come,
While promise of music is glistening
On lips that delight keeps dumb.
The mists and the storms receding
At sight of you smile and die:
Your eyes held wide on me reading
Shed summer across the sky:
Your heart shines clear for me, heeding
No more of the world than I.
The world, what is it to you, dear,
And me, if its face be grey,
And the new-born year be a shrewd year
For flowers that the fierce winds fray?
You smile, and the sky seems blue, dear;
You laugh, and the month turns May.
Love cares not for care, he has daffed her
Aside as a mate for guile:
The sight that my soul yearns after
Feeds full my sense for awhile;
Your sweet little sun-faced laughter,
Your good little glad grave smile.
Your hands through the bookshelves flutter;
Scott, Shakespeare, Dickens, are caught;
Blake’s visions, that lighten and mutter;
Molière and his smile has nought
Left on it of sorrow, to utter
The secret things of his thought.
No grim thing written or graven
But grows, if you gaze on it, bright;
A lark’s note rings from the raven,
And tragedy’s robe turns white;
And shipwrecks drift into haven;
And darkness laughs, and is light.
Grief seems but a vision of madness;
Life’s key-note peals from above
With nought in it more of sadness
Than broods on the heart of a dove:
At sight of you, thought grows gladness,
And life, through love of you, love.

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