Don Marquis

I still remember how she moved
Among the rathe, wild blooms she loved,
(When Spring came tip-toe down the slopes,
Atremble ‘twixt her doubts and hopes,
Half fearful and all virginal)—
How Silvia sought this dell to call
Her flowers into full festival,
And chid them with this madrigal:

“The busy spider hangs the brush
  With filmy gossamers,
The frogs are croaking in the creek,
  The sluggish blacksnake stirs,
But still the ground is bare of bloom
  Beneath the fragrant firs.

“Arise, arise, O briar rose,
  And sleepy violet!
Awake, awake, anemone,
  Your wintry dreams forget—

For shame, you tardy marigold,
  Are you not budded yet?

“The Swallow’s back, and claims the eaves
  That last year were his home;
The Robin follows where the plow
  Breaks up the crusted loam;
And Red-wings spies the Thrush and pipes:
  ‘Look!  Speckle-breast is come!’

“Up, blooms! and storm the wooded slopes,
  The lowlands and the plain—
Blow, jonquil, blow your golden horn
  Across the ranks of rain!
To arms! to arms! and put to flight
  The Winter’s broken train!”

She paused beside this selfsame rill,
And as she ceased, a daffodil
Held up reproachfully his head
And fluttered into speech, and said:

“Chide not the flowers!  You little know
Of all their travail ’neath the snow,

  Their struggling hours
Of choking sorrow underground.
  Chide not the flowers!
You little guess of that profound
  And blind, dumb agony of ours!
    Yet, victor here beside the rill,
I greet the light that I have found,
    A Daffodil!”

And when the Daffodil was done
A boastful Marigold spake on:

“Oh, chide the white frost, if you choose,
The heavy clod, so hard to loose,
  The preying powers
Of worm and insect underground.
  Chide not the flowers!
For spite of scathe and cruel wound,
  Unconquered by the sunless hours,
    I rise in regal pride, a bold
And golden-hearted, golden-crowned
    Marsh Marigold!”

And when she came no more, her creek
Would not believe, but bade us seek

Hither, yon, and to and fro—
Everywhere that children go
  When the Spring
  Is on the wing
And the winds of April blow—
“I will never think her dead;
“She will come again!” it said;
And then the birds that use the vale,
Broken-hearted, turned the tale
Into syllables of song
And chirped it half a summer long:

“Silvia, Silvia,
  Be our Song once more,
Our vale revisit, Silvia,
  And be our Song once more:
For joy lies sleeping in the lute;
The merry pipe, the woodland flute,
And all the pleading reeds are mute
  That breathed to thee of yore.

“Silvia, Silvia,
  Be our Moon again,

Shine on our valley, Silvia,
And be our Moon again:
The fluffy owl and nightingale
Flit silent through the darkling vale,
Or utter only words of wail
  From throats all harsh with pain.

“Silvia, Silvia,
  Be Springtime, as of old;
Come clad in laughter, Silvia,
  Our Springtime, as of old:
The waiting lowlands and the hills
Are tremulous with daffodils
Unblown, until thy footstep thrills
  Their promise into gold.”

And, musing on her here, I too
Must wonder if it can be true
She died, as other mortals do.
The thought would fit her more, to feign
  That, full of life and unaware
That earth holds aught of grief or stain,
  The fairies stole and hold her where
Death enters not, nor strife nor pain;—

That, drowsing on some bed of pansies,
By Titania’s necromancies
Her senses were to slumber lulled,
Deeply sunken, steeped and dulled,
  And by wafture of swift pinions
She was borne out through earth’s portals
  To the fairy queen’s dominions,
To some land of the immortals.

Index + Blog :

Poetry Archive Index | Blog : Poem of the Day