Lyrics of Earth

by Archibald Lampman


 

 

THE MEADOW


 

Here when the cloudless April days begin,
    And the quaint crows flock thicker day by day,
Filling the forests with a pleasant din,
    And the soiled snow creeps secretly away,
Comes the small busy sparrow, primed with glee,                    5     
First preacher in the naked wilderness,
    Piping an end to all the long distress
From every fence and every leafless tree.

Now with soft slight and viewless artifice
    Winterís iron work is wondrously undone;                            10
In all the little hollows cored with ice
    The clear brown pools stand simmering in the sun,
Frail lucid worlds, upon whose tremulous floors
    All day the wandering water-bugs at will,
    Shy mariners whose oars are never still,                             15
Voyage and dream about the heightening shores.

The bluebird, peeping from the gnarled thorn,
    Prattles upon his frolic flute, or flings,
In bounding flight across the golden morn,
    An azure gleam from off his splendid wings.                       20
Here the slim-pinioned swallows sweep and pass
    Down to the far-off river; the black crow
    With wise and wary visage to and fro
Settles and stalks about the withered grass.

Here, when the murmurous May-day is half gone,                  25
    The watchful lark before my feet takes flight,
And wheeling to some lonelier field far on,
    Drops with obstreperous cry; and here at night,
When the first star precedes the great red moon,
    The shore-lark tinkles from the darkening field,                  30
    Somewhere, we know not, in the dusk concealed,
His little creakling and continuous tune.

Here, too, the robins, lusty as of old,
    Hunt the waste grass for forage, or prolong
From every quarter of these fields the bold,                            35
    Blithe phrases of their never-finished song.
The white-throatís distant descant with slow stress
    Note after note upon the noonday falls,
    Filling the leisured air at intervals
With his own mood of piercing pensiveness.                         40

How often from this windy upland perch,
    Mine eyes have seen the forest break in bloom,
The rose-red maple and the golden birch,
    The dusty yellow of the elms, the gloom
Of the tall poplar hung with tasseled black;                            45
    Ah, I have watched, till eye and ear and brain
    Grew full of dreams as they, the moted plain,
The sun-steeped wood, the marsh-land at its back,

The valley where the river wheels and fills,
    Yon city glimmering in its smoky shroud,                           50
And out at the last misty rim the hills
    Blue and far off and mounded like a cloud,
And here the noisy rutted road that goes
    Down the slope yonder, flanked on either side
    With the smooth-furrowed fields flung black and wide,    55
Patched with pale water sleeping in the rows.

So as I watched the crowded leaves expand,
    The bloom break sheath, the summerís strength uprear,
In earthís great motherís heart already planned
    The heaped and burgeoned plenty of the year,                60
Even as she from out her wintry cell
    My spirit also sprang to life anew,
    And day by day as the springís bounty grew,
Its conquering joy possessed me like a spell.

In reverie by day and midnight dream                                   65
    I sought these upland fields and walked apart,
Musing on Nature, till my thought did seem
    To read the very secrets of her heart;
In mooded moments earnest and sublime
    I stored the themes of many a future song,                       70
    Whose substance should be Natureís, clear and strong,
Bound in a casket of majestic rhyme.

Brave bud-like plans that never reached the fruit,
    Like hers our motherís who with every hour,
Easily replenished from the sleepless root,                         75
    Covers her bosom with fresh bud and flower;
Yet I was happy as young lovers be,
    Who in the season of their passionís birth
    Deem that they have their utmost worshipís worth,
If love be near them, just to hear and see.                            80