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Sister Songs; an offering to two sisters   By: (1859-1907)

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Sister Songs


This poem, though new in the sense of being now for the first time printed, was written some four years ago, about the same date as the Hound of Heaven in my former volume.

One image in the Proem was an unconscious plagiarism from the beautiful image in Mr. Patmore's St. Valentine's Day:

"O baby Spring, That flutter'st sudden 'neath the breast of Earth, A month before the birth!"

Finding I could not disengage it without injury to the passage in which it is embedded, I have preferred to leave it, with this acknowledgment to a Poet rich enough to lend to the poor.


SISTER SONGS An Offering to Two Sisters


Shrewd winds and shrill were these the speech of May? A ragged, slag grey sky invested so, Mary's spoilt nursling! wert thou wont to go? Or THOU, Sun god and song god, say Could singer pipe one tiniest linnet lay, While Song did turn away his face from song? Or who could be In spirit or in body hale for long, Old AEsculap's best Master! lacking thee? At length, then, thou art here! On the earth's lethed ear Thy voice of light rings out exultant, strong; Through dreams she stirs and murmurs at that summons dear: From its red leash my heart strains tamelessly, For Spring leaps in the womb of the young year! Nay, was it not brought forth before, And we waited, to behold it, Till the sun's hand should unfold it, What the year's young bosom bore? Even so; it came, nor knew we that it came, In the sun's eclipse. Yet the birds have plighted vows, And from the branches pipe each other's name; Yet the season all the boughs Has kindled to the finger tips, Mark yonder, how the long laburnum drips Its jocund spilth of fire, its honey of wild flame! Yea, and myself put on swift quickening, And answer to the presence of a sudden Spring. From cloud zoned pinnacles of the secret spirit Song falls precipitant in dizzying streams; And, like a mountain hold when war shouts stir it, The mind's recessed fastness casts to light Its gleaming multitudes, that from every height Unfurl the flaming of a thousand dreams. Now therefore, thou who bring'st the year to birth, Who guid'st the bare and dabbled feet of May; Sweet stem to that rose Christ, who from the earth Suck'st our poor prayers, conveying them to Him; Be aidant, tender Lady, to my lay! Of thy two maidens somewhat must I say, Ere shadowy twilight lashes, drooping, dim Day's dreamy eyes from us; Ere eve has struck and furled The beamy textured tent transpicuous, Of webbed coerule wrought and woven calms, Whence has paced forth the lambent footed sun. And Thou disclose my flower of song upcurled, Who from Thy fair irradiant palms Scatterest all love and loveliness as alms; Yea, Holy One, Who coin'st Thyself to beauty for the world!

Then, Spring's little children, your lauds do ye upraise To Sylvia, O Sylvia, her sweet, feat ways! Your lovesome labours lay away, And trick you out in holiday, For syllabling to Sylvia; And all you birds on branches, lave your mouths with May, To bear with me this burthen, For singing to Sylvia.


The leaves dance, the leaves sing, The leaves dance in the breath of the Spring. I bid them dance, I bid them sing, For the limpid glance Of my ladyling; For the gift to the Spring of a dewier spring, For God's good grace of this ladyling! I know in the lane, by the hedgerow track, The long, broad grasses underneath Are warted with rain like a toad's knobbed back; But here May weareth a rainless wreath. In the new sucked milk of the sun's bosom Is dabbled the mouth of the daisy blossom; The smouldering rosebud chars through its sheath; The lily stirs her snowy limbs, Ere she swims Naked up through her cloven green, Like the wave born Lady of Love Hellene; And the scattered snowdrop exquisite Twinkles and gleams, As if the showers of the sunny beams Were splashed from the earth in drops of light... Continue reading book >>

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