Verse > William Wordsworth > Complete Poetical Works
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TO MAY

          THOUGH many suns have risen and set
            Since thou, blithe May, wert born,
          And Bards, who hailed thee, may forget
            Thy gifts, thy beauty scorn;
          There are who to a birthday strain
            Confine not harp and voice,
          But evermore throughout thy reign
            Are grateful and rejoice!

          Delicious odours! music sweet,
            Too sweet to pass away!                                   10
          Oh for a deathless song to meet
            The soul's desire--a lay
          That, when a thousand years are told,
            Should praise thee, genial Power!
          Through summer heat, autumnal cold,
            And winter's dreariest hour.

          Earth, sea, thy presence feel--nor less,
            If yon ethereal blue
          With its soft smile the truth express,
            The heavens have felt it too.                             20
          The inmost heart of man if glad
            Partakes a livelier cheer;
          And eyes that cannot but be sad
            Let fall a brightened tear.

          Since thy return, through days and weeks
            Of hope that grew by stealth,
          How many wan and faded cheeks
            Have kindled into health!
          The Old, by thee revived, have said,
            "Another year is ours;"                                   30
          And wayworn Wanderers, poorly fed
            Have smiled upon thy flowers.

          Who tripping lisps a merry song
            Amid his playful peers?
          The tender Infant who was long
            A prisoner of fond fears;
          But now, when every sharp-edged blast
            Is quiet in its sheath,
          His Mother leaves him free to taste
            Earth's sweetness in thy breath.                          40

          Thy help is with the weed that creeps
            Along the humblest ground;
          No cliff so bare but on its steeps
            Thy favours may be found;
          But most on some peculiar nook
            That our own hands have drest,
          Thou and thy train are proud to look,
            And seem to love it best.

          And yet how pleased we wander forth
            When May is whispering, "Come!                            50
          "Choose from the bowers of virgin earth
            "The happiest for your home;
          "Heaven's bounteous love through me is spread
            "From sunshine, clouds, winds, waves,
          "Drops on the mouldering turret's head,
            "And on your turf-clad graves!"

          Such greeting heard, away with sighs
            For lilies that must fade,
          Or "the rathe primrose as it dies
            Forsaken" in the shade!                                   60
          Vernal fruitions and desires
            Are linked in endless chase;
          While, as one kindly growth retires,
            Another takes its place.

          And what if thou, sweet May, hast known,
            Mishap by worm and blight;
          If expectations newly blown
            Have perished in thy sight;
          If loves and joys, while up they sprung,
            Were caught as in a snare;                                70
          Such is the lot of all the young,
            However bright and fair.

          Lo! Streams that April could not check
            Are patient of thy rule;
          Gurgling in foamy water-break,
            Loitering in glassy pool:
          By thee, thee only, could be sent
            Such gentle mists as glide,
          Curling with unconfirmed intent,
            On that green mountain's side.                            80

          How delicate the leafy veil
            Through which yon house of God
          Gleams, mid the peace of this deep dale
            By few but shepherds trod!
          And lowly huts, near beaten ways,
            No sooner stand attired
          In thy fresh wreaths, than they for praise
            Peep forth, and are admired.

          Season of fancy and of hope,
            Permit not for one hour,                                  90
          A blossom from thy crown to drop,
            Nor add to it a flower!
          Keep, lovely May, as if by touch
            Of self-restraining art,
          This modest charm of not too much,
            Part seen, imagined part!
                                                         1826-1834.


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