Sunday, March 16, 2014

Seeking the Spring / Katharine Lee Bates

Seeking the Spring

Two shepherds sate in a cavern gate
     And plained for the frozen rills,
The pale clouds low with the heavy snow,
     And the flock-forsaken hills.
Their empty pipes on their silent lips
     Lay chill as the icy spears
That grow where the snow from the tree-bough drips
     Like a wood-nymph's falling tears,
A nymph hid dark in the rugged bark
     From the unbelieving years.

"I will go," saith one, "to seek the Sun,
     And his daughter, the Spring, to spy,
In the windy east where they lie and feast
     In a nook of the misted sky."
So he clasped his pipe to his songless breast,
     The shepherd who sought the Spring,
And left his fellow to scorn the quest
     And wait for her steps to bring
The music gift that his heart should lift
     To the level where high hearts sing.

'Neath the morning star, by the ocean far,
     The seeker the Spring did find.
With a timid grace she had hid her face
     In a veil of inwoven wind,
Where shining raindrops, and calls of birds,
     And odors of buds awake,
Touched the shepherd's lips with a sense of words,
     And he sang, for the Spring's sweet sake,
Till the snow-bound woods and the frosted floods
     The chains of their bondage brake.

Then the Spring danced on till her white feet shone
     On the slope of the western wave,
And the shepherd rose from his dim repose,
     Who had slumbered within the cave;
But every blossom had seen the Spring
     And was brimmed with her scent and hue,
And every thrush in his leafy swing
     Knew all that the shepherd knew.
Who would care to hear, though he carolled clear,
     When the soft spring breezes blew ?

Katharine Lee Bates
from The College Beautiful, and other poems, 1887.

[Poem is in the public domain in Canada, the United States, and the European Union]

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