The delicate gray trees stand up
There by the old fenced ways;
One or two are crimson-tipped,
And soon will start to blaze.
The plowman follows, as of yore,
Along the furrows cold,
Homeric shape against the boughs;
Sharp is the air with mold.
The sweating horses heave and strain;
The crows with thick, high note
Break black across the windless land,
Fade off and are remote.
Oh, new days, yet long known and old!
Lo, as we look about,
This immemorial act of faith,
That takes the heart from doubt!
Kingdoms decay and creeds are not,
Yet still the plowman goes
Down the spring fields, so he may make
Ready for him that sows.
I dig amongst the roots of life,
And hear the rushing of the sap
That soon in silken white will wrap
The sagged pear bough. I hear the strife
Of change with change: of riot that goes
Rebellious; last, of law and pain;
Each battling to restore the lane
Its lost, hereditary rose.
The dwindled hearth, and the spent mould
A double flowering will yield;--
New loveliness for house, for field,
And with it the ghost of the old.
So sharp a tooth has gnawed their gold,
Eaten it in holes from foot to crown,
The wayside bough hangs a dulled brown,
And the stooped garden's looks are cold.
Is the old robbery not done?
Must they who live by what is fair,
Go hungry for it, and go bare
Down a pale, disillusioned sun?
As in a glass, we see and learn
Darkly. No tooth, in bough and mould
Can gnaw their secret, other gold;
Something escapes, that will return.
For what is fair is permanent,
And nought can rob us of our right.
Shall we not watch the road blow white,
And the blue hyacinth choke in scent?
Battles nor songs can from oblivion save,
But Fame upon a white deed loves to build;
From out that cup of water Sidney gave,
Not one drop has been spilled.
Whether we climb, whether we plod,
Space for one task the scant years lend--
To choose some path that leads to God,
And keep it to the end.
I climb that was a clod;
I run whose steps were slow;
I reap the very wheat of God
That once had none to sow.
Is Joy a lamp outblown?
Truth out of grasping set?
But nay, for Laughter is mine own;
I knock and answer get.
Nor is the last word said;
Nor is the battle done;
Somewhat of glory and of dread
Remains for set of sun.
For I have scattered seed
Shall ripen at the end;
Old Age holds more than I shall need,
Death more than I can spend.
Today, as it happens, is Candlemas. So I will post a poem I posted before by Reese for Candlemas.
There’s never a rose upon the bush,
And never a bud on any tree;
In wood and field nor hint nor sign
Of one green thing for you or me.
Come in, come in, sweet love of mine,
And let the bitter weather be!
Coated with ice the garden wall;
The river reeds are stark and still;
The wind goes plunging to the sea,
And last week’s flakes the hollows fill.
Come in, come in, sweet love, to me,
And let the year blow as it will!