WHERE its umbrage, was enrooted,

Sat, white-suited,

Sat, green-amiced and bare-footed,

Spring, amid her minstrelsy;

There she sat amid her ladies,

Where the shade is

Sheen as Enna mead ere Hades'

Gloom fell thwart Persephone.

Dewy buds were interstrown

Through her tresses hanging down,

And her feet

Were most sweet,

Tinged like sea-stars, rosied brown.

A throng of children like to flowers were sown

About the grass beside, or clomb her knee:

I looked who were that favoured company.

And one there stood

Against the beamy flood

Of sinking day, which, pouring its abundance,

Sublimed the illuminous and volute redundance

Of locks that, half dissolving, floated round her face;

As see I might

Far off a lily-cluster poised in sun

Dispread its gracile curls of light.

*The umbrage of an elm-tree described earlier in Sister Songs, from which this and the six succeeding poems are detached.

I knew what chosen child was there in place!

I knew there might no brows be, save of one,

With such Hesperian fulgence compassed,

Which in her moving seemed to wheel about her head.

O Spring's little children, more loud your lauds upraise.

For this is even Sylvia with her sweet, feat ways!

Tour love some labours lay away,

And prank you out in holiday,

For syllabling to Sylvia;

And all you birds on branches, lave your mouths with May,

To bear with me th is burthen

For singing to Sylvia

Spring, goddess, is it thou, desired long?

And art thou girded round with this young train?-

If ever I did do thee ease in song,

Now of thy grace let me one meed obtain,

And list thou to one plain.

Oh, keep still in thy train,

After the years when others therefrom fade,

This tiny, well-beloved maid!

To whom the gate of my heart's fortalice,

With all which in it is,

And the shy self who doth therein immew him

'Gainst what loud leaguerers battailously woo him,

I, bribed traitor to him,

Set open for one kiss.

A kiss? for a child's kiss?

Aye, goddess, even for this.

Once, bright Sylviola! in days not far,

Once-in that nightmare-time which still doth haunt

My dreams, a grim, unbidden visitant-

Forlorn, and feint, and stark,

I had endured through watches of the dark

The abashless inquisition of each star,

Yea, was the outcast mark

Of all those heavenly passers' scrutiny;

Stood bound and helplessly

For Time to shoot his barbed minutes at me;

Suffered the trampling hoof of every hour

In night's slow-wheeled car;

Until the tardy dawn dragged me at length

From under those dread wheels; and, bled of


I waited the inevitable last.

Then there came past

A child; like thee, a spring-flower; but a flower

Fallen from the budded coronal of Spring,

And through the city-streets blown withering.

She passed,-O brave, sad, lovingest, tender thing!-

And of her own scant pittance did she give,

That I might eat and live:

Then fled, a swift and trackless fugitive.

Therefore I kissed in thee

The heart of Childhood, so divine for me;

And her, through what sore ways,

And what unchildish days,

Borne from me now, as then, a trackless fugitive.

Therefore I kissed in thee

Her, child! and innocency,

And spring, and all things that have gone from me,

And that shall never be;

All vanished hopes, and all most hopeless bliss

Came with thee to my kiss.

And ah! so long myself had strayed afar

From child, and woman, and the boon earth's green,

And all wherewith life's face is fair beseen;

Journeying its journey bare

Five suns, except of the all-kissing sun

Unkissed of one;

Almost I had forgot

The healing harms,

And whitest witchery, a-lurk in that

Authentic cestus of two girdling arms:

And I remembered not

The subtle sanftities which dart

From childish lips' unvalued precious brush

Nor how it makes the sudden lilies push

Between the loosening fibres of the heart.

Then, that thy little kiss

Should be to me all this,

Let workaday wisdom blink sage lids thereat;

Which towers a flight three hedgerows high, poor bat!

And straightway charts me out the empyreal air.

Its chart I wing not by, its canon of worth

Scorn not, nor reck though mine should breed it mirth:

And howso thou and I may be disjoint,

Yet still my falcon spirit makes her point

Over the covert where

Thou, sweetest quarry, hast put in from her!