Verse > Anthologies > Arthur Quiller-Couch, ed. > The Oxford Book of English Verse
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CONTENTS · BIBLIOGRAPHIC RECORD
Arthur Quiller-Couch, ed. 1919. The Oxford Book of English Verse: 1250–1900.
  
George Meredith. 1828–1909
  
774. Tardy Spring
  
    NOW the North wind ceases, 
    The warm South-west awakes; 
    Swift fly the fleeces, 
    Thick the blossom-flakes. 
 
Now hill to hill has made the stride,         5
And distance waves the without-end: 
Now in the breast a door flings wide; 
Our farthest smiles, our next is friend. 
And song of England's rush of flowers 
Is this full breeze with mellow stops,  10
That spins the lark for shine, for showers; 
He drinks his hurried flight, and drops. 
The stir in memory seem these things, 
Which out of moisten'd turf and clay, 
Astrain for light push patient rings,  15
Or leap to find the waterway. 
'Tis equal to a wonder done, 
Whatever simple lives renew 
Their tricks beneath the father sun, 
As though they caught a broken clue:  20
So hard was earth an eyewink back; 
But now the common life has come, 
The blotting cloud a dappled pack, 
The grasses one vast underhum. 
A City clothed in snow and soot,  25
With lamps for day in ghostly rows, 
Breaks to the scene of hosts afoot, 
The river that reflective flows: 
And there did fog down crypts of street 
Play spectre upon eye and mouth:—  30
Their faces are a glass to greet 
This magic of the whirl for South. 
A burly joy each creature swells 
With sound of its own hungry quest; 
Earth has to fill her empty wells,  35
And speed the service of the nest; 
The phantom of the snow-wreath melt, 
That haunts the farmer's look abroad, 
Who sees what tomb a white night built, 
Where flocks now bleat and sprouts the clod.  40
For iron Winter held her firm; 
Across her sky he laid his hand; 
And bird he starved, he stiffen'd worm; 
A sightless heaven, a shaven land. 
Her shivering Spring feign'd fast asleep,  45
The bitten buds dared not unfold: 
We raced on roads and ice to keep 
Thought of the girl we love from cold. 
 
    But now the North wind ceases, 
    The warm South-west awakes,  50
    The heavens are out in fleeces, 
    And earth's green banner shakes. 
 
 
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