I dread the beauty of approaching spring
Now the old month is dead and the young moon
Has pierced my heart with her sharp silver horns.
My tired soul is startled out of sleep
By all the urging joy of bud and leaf,
And in the barren yard where I have paced
Content with prison and despair’s monotony,
The trees break into music wild and shrill,
And flowers come out like stars amid the dust,
Bewildering my loneliness with beauty….
For winter with her melancholy face
Shone back my miseries as in a glass,
And wept and whined in harmony with me;
And I could listen by the withering ashes
To the ill-omened drum of dropping rain,
And sighing harken sighs and mute feel silence,
And cold stretch forth my hand into the snows,
And hating, hear the laughter of the wind
Whose mad hands tear the sky.
But now again the promise of the spring
Shall lift my martyred spirit from the dust,
To where the lilied altar shines with peace,
And the white priestess comes
Crowning each candle with a gold desire
Engirdling with pallors
The forehead of a divine ghost.
Ah, but they die, these gods, the candles dwindle
And spring is but a radiant beckoning
To death that follows slowly, silently….
O flitting swallows, fleeting laugh of wind,
O flash of silver in the wings of dawn
That are spread out and closed. O hush of night
Breathless with love, oh swish of whispering tide
That swells and shrinks upon the dreaming shore.
O gentle eyes of children wonder-wide
That grow too soon to weariness and close;
O scuttling run of rabbit on the hills,
And flight of lazy rooks above the elm;
O birds’ eggs frail, tinged faintly, nestled close,
And mystery of flower in the bud.
O burning galaxy of buttercups,
And drone of bees above the pouting rose,—
O twilit lovers stilled with reverie
And footprints of them swerving on the sand
And darkness of them clasped against the sky!
I see beyond the glory of your days
The grey days marching one behind the other
To the bleak tunes of silence.
When mists shall smear the radiance of the moon
And the lean thief shall pass,
Snatching the glittering toys away from love,
Plucking the feathers from the wings of peace.
And Life herself, grown old and crooked now,
Shall go the way that her long shadow points,
Her long black shadow down the roads of sleep.
From Poems, Iris Tree (1920)