Sanctuary Sunshine House Sonnets

by Bliss Carman

Illustrations by Whitman Bailey






When the sun shines upon the crust of March
In the bare wood, how blue the shadows lie
Along the snow between the gray tree-boles!
And where the muffled stream runs, bluer still
Between its snowy banks edged with frail ice,
The silvery oaks and sugar maples stand
Like a faint tracing on a lacquer tray,
Or a worn pattern on old Sheffield plate.
The strong sun melts the snow in open places;
A calling crow flies over, trailing north
His silent shadow down the wooded slope;
And then to bring the winter scene to life,
Etched on the memory like a haunting smile
A bluebird flashes to an apple bough.




Now great Orion journeys to the West,
The Lord of Winter from the world withdraws,
And all his glittering house of cold dissolves.
Ice-storm and crust and powdery drift are gone,
And a soft hush of morning fills the world.
In rocky groves the sugar maples drip,
Till the sweet sap o’erbrims the shining pails;
The snow slides from the roofs in the warm sun;
Along spring-runs the first young green appears;
The willow sapling in the meadow lot
Put on their saffron veils with silver sheen
As if for some approaching festival;
And hark, from field to field one note proclaims
The Phantasm of Spring is on the move!




It is the gladdening note our fathers heard
In Puritan New England in old days,
On Marchy mornings when the wind grew still,
Telling them winter would not always last.
How soft it falls, how plaintive yet how sure!
Clear as a call from heaven, that cheery cry
Heralds the reawakening of earth,
And sets the frost-bound urge of life astir.
Is he not of that blessed company
To whom Saint Francis carried the new word—
Of Joyous resurrection and brave life—
The gospel of Victorious ecstasy?
In the bright hush he pauses to repeat
His canticle of transport undismayed.