May and Death
I wish that when you died last May,
Charles, there had died along with you
Three parts of spring's delightful things;
Ay, and, for me, the fourth part too.
A foolish thought, and worse, perhaps!
There must be many a pair of friends
Who, arm in arm, deserve the warm
Moon-births and the long evening-ends.
So, for their sakes, be May still May!
Let their new time, as mine of old,
Do all it did for me: I bid
Sweet sights and sounds throng manifold.
Only, one little sight, one plant,
Woods have in May, that starts up green
Save a sole streak which, so to speak.
Is spring's blood, spilt its leaves between,—
That, they might spare; a certain wood
Might miss the plant; their loss were small:
But I,— whene'er the leaf grows there,
Its drop comes from my heart, that's all.
Robert Browning (1812-1889), 1857
from Dramatis Personae, 1864
[Poem is in the public domain worldwide]