One Day in May
Do you recall, old friend, how we
Pulled up the Wye one day in May?
The bloom was on the hawthorn tree,
And many an upland meadow way
Showed plots of hyacinths as blue
As glints of sky the clouds let through.
We left gray Chepstow's walls behind,—
Its crumbling keep, its burst of chimes;
With us went wooingly the wind,
Repeating little liquid rhymes;
And with us, too, the tide's long sweep
From Severn and the outer deep.
Spring's choristers from either shore
Flung us their softly silvery hail;
Each time we raised or dipped the oar,
Lo, the sweet burden of a tale
As ancient as the hills, and keyed
To match our spirits' vernal need!
The heights slipped by; the lowlands swung
Like wingèd dreams athwart our ken;
Thatched farmsteads where the ivy clung
Swam in the westering light, and then,
Beyond lush tree and lichened stile,
Loomed Tintern's dim monastic pile.
We shipped the oars and stepped to land;
Sauntered the village streets, and clomb
Wide loops of path until we scanned
The valley,— water, wood and loam
Umber beneath the plowman's blade,
Or in faint gold and green arrayed.
Into a hill gap drooped the sun,
Flooding divinely, ere it went,
The abbey windows one by one
With an ethereal ravishment,—
Ambers and crimsons such as play
About the funeral pyre of day.
Then twilight's purples, and her peace,
And the calm lifting of the moon!
O Memory, may'st thou never cease
To grant to me this gracious boon,—
The vision of that bygone time
When May and youth were both at prime!
Clinton Scollard (1860-1932)
from Voices and Visions, 1908
[Poem is in the public domain in Canada, the United States, and the European Union]
Clinton Scollard biography