The Masque Of The Months.

A poem by Henry Austin Dobson

(For A Fresco.)

Firstly thou, churl son of Janus,
Rough for cold, in drugget clad,
Com'st with rack and rheum to pain us;--
Firstly thou, churl son of Janus.
Caverned now is old Sylvanus;
Numb and chill are maid and lad.

After thee thy dripping brother,
Dank his weeds around him cling;
Fogs his footsteps swathe and smother,--
After thee thy dripping brother.
Hearth-set couples hush each other,
Listening for the cry of Spring.

Hark! for March thereto doth follow,
Blithe,--a herald tabarded;
O'er him flies the shifting swallow,--
Hark! for March thereto doth follow.
Swift his horn, by holt and hollow,
Wakes the flowers in winter dead.

Thou then, April, Iris' daughter,
Born between the storm and sun;
Coy as nymph ere Pan hath caught her,--
Thou then, April, Iris' daughter.
Now are light, and rustling water;
Now are mirth, and nests begun.

May the jocund cometh after,
Month of all the Loves (and mine);
Month of mock and cuckoo-laughter,--
May the jocund cometh after.
Beaks are gay on roof and rafter;
Luckless lovers peak and pine.

June the next, with roses scented,
Languid from a slumber-spell;
June in shade of leafage tented;--
June the next, with roses scented.
Now her Itys, still lamented,
Sings the mournful Philomel.

Hot July thereafter rages,
Dog-star smitten, wild with heat;
Fierce as pard the hunter cages,--
Hot July thereafter rages.
Traffic now no more engages;
Tongues are still in stall and street.

August next, with cider mellow,
Laughs from out the poppied corn;
Hook at back, a lusty fellow,--
August next, with cider mellow.
Now in wains the sheafage yellow
'Twixt the hedges slow is borne.

Laden deep with fruity cluster,
Then September, ripe and hale;
Bees about his basket fluster,--
Laden deep with fruity cluster.
Skies have now a softer lustre;
Barns resound to flap of flail.

Thou then, too, of woodlands lover,
Dusk October, berry-stained;
Wailed about of parting plover,--
Thou then, too, of woodlands lover.
Fading now are copse and cover;
Forests now are sere and waned.

Next November, limping, battered,
Blinded in a whirl of leaf;
Worn of want and travel-tattered,--
Next November, limping, battered.
Now the goodly ships are shattered,
Far at sea, on rock and reef.

Last of all the shrunk December
Cowled for age, in ashen gray;
Fading like a fading ember,--
Last of all the shrunk December.
Him regarding, men remember
Life and joy must pass away.

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