The choirboys sang at dawn in Oxfordtown,
birdnotes chiming from tower’d nest
of stone above the mink-brown Cher.
I have never heard them do it
but by the heart’s hard listening,
that fancy-flight of longing
that makes an actuality of the imagined,
till the real is more dream
than the dream. And while I dreamed
an inexorable sea away, they sang,
white robes ruffled like fledgling feathers
breathed upon by auroral breezes,
round mouths wide to drink in all
that dew of blushing morn and maiden
May. The earth is glad once more—
their sweet song rouses it with a shout!
And I awake, dispossessed of all that happy dream.
My morning broods, welling tears of unshed rain,
while the green world waits,
shuddering at one long, low sob of thunder.
Yet the wild roses breathe out
a holy incense, flouncing their frills
over western hedges and showering a veil
of bridal white from the low-sweeping pines.
In the breathless orthodoxy
of this newborn day that first,
wild, young madness of honeysuckle plies
an arrow through my awakened heart.
And at evening, we sit beneath
a windswept sky, remembering
how the sun kindled her honeyed face
and how the rain silvered the hoary fretwork of her spires.
“To England,” he says, lifting a glass of stars,
summer wine enflamed by one glance of that great light.