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Lines for the First of May

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.


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