The Goal of Spring

WHEN the May showers are past
Which waked the meadows to their tender green,
And summer blooms have come and faded fast,
No longer to be seen ;
Memory with tearful fondness looketh back
As age on childhood’s flower-besprinkled track.
But from the first brown clod,
On through the rainbow-colored April mist,
Across broad clover-fields by mowers trod
And summer sunshine kissed,
Maturer thought — imagination’s bond —
Leaps into autumn’s radiant realms beyond.
Upon the joyous hills
Her festal multitudes stand grouped on high ;
As where some city’s population fills
Window and balcony,
When with loud welcoming and clarion strain
Its armies come, victorious, home again.
Along the river’s brim
The crimson-clad battalions of the trees, —
The rustling music of their army-hymn.
Borne on the exultant breeze, —
Move through the valley in majestic march,
Under the noontide heaven’s triumphal arch.
And still — when Day hath set
For dwellers in the hamlet by the bridge —
In his last beams the ensanguined maples yet
Shine on the upland ridge ;
And kindled larches flash like bonfire lights
From peak to peak, along the blazing heights.
In comradeship like this,
I come—ere Winter violate her charms —
To press on Nature’s cheek a farewell kiss,
Enfold her in my arms,
And her consummate loveliness recall
Ere my queen lies beneath her silver pall.
Amid the forest glades
I track the hours of the receding year;
Along October’s curtained colonnades
Their rustling steps I hear ;
And where the sunshine warms the mountain-side
Their lingering shadows still awhile abide.
Beneath the mossy ledge,
Which overhangs a bowl of amber-brown,
I watch the streamlet brimming o’er the edge,
And farther down
Hear its impatient accents, and discern
Its eager smugglings, tangled in the fern.
And as I lie reclined
Against some trunk the husbandman hath felled,
Old legendary poems fill my mind,
And parables of eld.
I wander with Orlando through the wood,
Or muse with Jaques in his solitude.
The birch on yonder mound —
With leafless ivory branches glimmering bare,
Its yellow treasures heaped upon the ground —
Seemeth Godiva fair,
Standing, white-limbed, and naked as at birth,
With all her golden raiment slid to earth.
But costlier far than all,
All noble images in Fancy’s sphere,
Fair shapes descend from Memory’s pictured hall,—
Forms my fond heart holds dear ;
Visions of unreturning ones, who stand
Beside me here and take me by the hand.
Ye sweet autumnal days ! Is there no spell to call your beauty back, To re-illumine these divine delays Upon your dusky track ? To wake at will your dear delights, which steep The soul in bliss till the tired senses sleep ?
Vainly, alas ! I cry ; Vainly I strive to grasp your garments’ hem : Ye sweep, in your empurpled radiance, by, With coronal and gem, As earth’s unpitying sovereigns those that grieve, And stretch sad hands for pardon or reprieve.
Even as I gaze ye cease; Your palaces are empty in the land; And into ruin crumbles, piece by piece, Your culmination grand ; And the red embers darken on the sod O’er which, unscathed, your saintlike footsteps trod.
O, for some poet-soul, The subtle fervor of whose honeyed line Might crush the hoarded harvest of the whole Within one cup divine ! And all your dim-eyed dreams of joy be quaffed When to our lips he held the precious draught.
So princely Ganymede, Whose roseate cheek the downcast lashes sweep, Serving the immortal revellers’ thirsty need In Jove’s Olympian keep, Pours in star-beaming beakers crystalline The lusty life-blood of the fruited vine.
But be not we as they Who, in the recurrent glow of bud and bloom, See but fruition twin-born with decay, And through your golden gloom Grope on to winter, aimless, hopeless, blind,— Beasts that but build the ladder of their kind, —
Dead to the noble thrill, The rapture of the elemental strife, The kingly pity, the heroic will, The brotherhood of life, — Parted companionships, which live again Within the orbéd portals of the brain.
Yet were it sweet, perhaps, To pillow in your arms a weary head, And with yon rivulet’s unhindered lapse Pass to the earlier dead, And closing thus our heavy-lidded eyes, Wake to the glad contentment of the skies.
James F. Colman.