Now – now, as low I stooped, thought I,
I will see what this snowdrop is;
So shall I put much argument by,
And solve a lifetime’s mysteries.
A northern wind had frozen the grass;
Its blades were hoar with crystal rime,
Aglint the light-dissecting glass
At beam of morning-prime.
From hidden bulb the flower reared up
Its angled, slender, cold, dark stem,
Whence dangled an inverted cup
For tri-leaved diadem.
Beneath these ice-pure sepals lay
A triplet of green-pencilled snow,
Which in the chill-aired gloom of day
Stirred softly to and fro.
Mind fixed, but else made vacant, I,
Lost to my body, called my soul
To don that frail solemnity,
Its inmost self my goal.
And though in vain – no mortal mind
Across that threshold yet hath fared! –
In this collusion I divined
Some consciousness we shared.
Strange roads – while suns, a myriad, set –
Had led us through infinity;
And where they crossed, there then had met
Not two of us but three.
Look thy last on all things lovely
When I lie where shades of darkness
Shall no more assail mine eyes,
Nor the rain make lamentation
When the wind sighs;
How will fare the world whose wonder
Was the very proof of me?
Memory fades, must the remembered
Oh, when this my dust surrenders
Hand, foot, lip, to dust again,
May these loved and loving faces
Please other men!
May the rustling harvest hedgerow
Still the Traveller’s Joy entwine,
And as happy children gather
Posies once mine.
Look thy last on all things lovely,
Every hour. Let no night
Seal thy sense in deathly slumber
Till to delight
Thou hast paid thine utmost blessing;
Since that all things thou wouldst praise
Beauty took from those who loved them
In other days.
Be gentle, O hands of a child
Be true: like a shadowy sea
In the starry darkness of night
Are your eyes to me.
But words are shallow, and soon
Dreams fade that the heart once knew;
And youth fades out in the mind,
In the dark eyes too.
What can a tired heart say,
Which the wise of the world have made dumb?
Save to the lonely dreams of a child,
‘Return again, come!
What lovely things
Thy hand hath made:
The smooth-plumed bird
In its emerald shade,
The seed of the grass,
The speck of stone
Which the wayfaring ant
Stirs – and hastes on!
Though I should sit
By some tarn in thy hills,
Using its ink
As the spirit wills
To write of Earth’s wonders,
Its live, willed things,
Flit would the ages
On soundless wings.
Ere unto Z
My pen drew nigh;
And the honey-fly:
And still would remain
My wit to try
My worn reeds broken,
The dark tarn dry,
All words forgotten –
Thou, Lord, and I.