A Birthday Walk.

A poem by Jean Ingelow


"The days of our life are threescore years and ten."

A birthday: - and a day that rose
With much of hope, with meaning rife -
A thoughtful day from dawn to close:
The middle day of human life.

In sloping fields on narrow plains,
The sheep were feeding on their knees
As we went through the winding lanes,
Strewed with red buds of alder-trees.

So warm the day - its influence lent
To flagging thought a stronger wing;
So utterly was winter spent,
So sudden was the birth of spring.

Wild crocus flowers in copse and hedge -
In sunlight, clustering thick below,
Sighed for the firwood's shaded ledge,
Where sparkled yet a line of snow.

And crowded snowdrops faintly hung
Their fair heads lower for the heat,
While in still air all branches flung
Their shadowy doubles at our feet.

And through the hedge the sunbeams crept,
Dropped through the maple and the birch;
And lost in airy distance slept
On the broad tower of Tamworth Church.

Then, lingering on the downward way,
A little space we resting stood,
To watch the golden haze that lay
Adown that river by the wood.

A distance vague, the bloom of sleep
The constant sun had lent the scene,
A veiling charm on dingles deep
Lay soft those pastoral hills between.

There are some days that die not out,
Nor alter by reflection's power,
Whose converse calm, whose words devout,
For ever rest, the spirit's dower.

And they are days when drops a veil -
A mist upon the distance past;
And while we say to peace - "All hail!"
We hope that always it shall last.

Times when the troubles of the heart
Are hushed - as winds were hushed that day -
And budding hopes begin to start,
Like those green hedgerows on our way:

When all within and all around
Like hues on that sweet landscape blend,
And Nature's hand has made to sound
The heartstrings that her touch attend:

When there are rays within, like those
That streamed through maple and through birch,
And rested in such calm repose
On the broad tower of Tamworth Church.

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