Verse > William Wordsworth > Complete Poetical Works
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ODE TO LYCORIS. MAY 1817

                                   I

          AN age hath been when Earth was proud
          Of lustre too intense
          To be sustained; and Mortals bowed
          The front in self-defence.
          Who 'then', if Dian's crescent gleamed,
          Or Cupid's sparkling arrow streamed
          While on the wing the Urchin played,
          Could fearlessly approach the shade?
          --Enough for one soft vernal day,
          If I, a bard of ebbing time,
          And nurtured in a fickle clime,
          May haunt this horned bay;
          Whose amorous water multiplies
          The flitting halcyon's vivid dyes;
          And smooths her liquid breast--to show
          These swan-like specks of mountain snow,
          White as the pair that slid along the plains
          Of heaven, when Venus held the reins!

                                   II

          In youth we love the darksome lawn
          Brushed by the owlet's wing;
          Then, Twilight is preferred to Dawn,
          And Autumn to the Spring.
          Sad fancies do we then affect,
          In luxury of disrespect
          To our own prodigal excess
          Of too familiar happiness.
          Lycoris (if such name befit
          Thee, thee my life's celestial sign!)
          When Nature marks the year's decline,
          Be ours to welcome it;
          Pleased with the harvest hope that runs
          Before the path of milder suns;
          Pleased while the sylvan world displays
          Its ripeness to the feeding gaze;
          Pleased when the sullen winds resound the knell
          Of the resplendent miracle.

                                   III

          But something whispers to my heart
          That, as we downward tend,
          Lycoris! life requires an 'art'
          To which our souls must bend;
          A skill--to balance and supply;
          And, ere the flowing fount be dry,
          As soon it must, a sense to sip,
          Or drink, with no fastidious lip.
          Then welcome, above all, the Guest
          Whose smiles, diffused o'er land and sea,
          Seem to recall the Deity
          Of youth into the breast:
          May pensive Autumn ne'er present
          A claim to her disparagement!
          While blossoms and the budding spray
          Inspire us in our own decay;
          Still, as we nearer draw to life's dark goal,
          Be hopeful Spring the favourite of the Soul!


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