Reader! what soul that laoves a verse can see
The spring return, nor glow like you and me?
Hear the quick birds, and see the landscape fill,
Nor long to utter his melodious will?
This more than ever leaps into the veins,
When spring has been delay’d by winds and rains,
And coming with a burst, comes like a show,
Blue all above, and basking green below,
And all the people culling the sweet prime:
Then issues forth the bee to clutch the thyme,
And the bee poet rushes into rhyme.
For lo! no sooner has the cold withdrawn,
Than the bright elm is tufted on the lawn;
The merry sap has run up in the bowers,
And bursts the windows of the buds in flowers;
With song the bosoms of the birds run o’er,
The cuckoo calls, the swallow’s at the door,
And apple-tree at noon with bees alive
Burn with the golden chorus of the hive.
Now all these sweets,
these sounds, this vernal blaze,
Is but one joy, express’d a thousand ways:
And honey from the flowers and song from birds
Are from the poet’s pen his oeverflowing words.
Ah friends! methinks it were a pleasant sphere,
If, like the trees, we blossom’d every year;
If locks grew thick again, and rosy dyes
Return’d in cheeks, and raciness in eyes,
And all around us, vital to the tips,
The human orchard laugh’d with cherry lips!
Lord! what a burst of merriment and play,
Fair dames, were that! and what a first of May!
So natural is the wish, that bards gone by
Have left it, all, in some immortal sigh!
And yet the winter months were not so well:
Who would like changing, as the seasons fell?
Fade every year, and stare, midst ghastly friends,
With falling hairs, and stuck-out fingers’
Besides, this tale of youth that comes again
Is no more true of apple-trees than men.
The Swedish sage, the Newton of the flow’rs,
Who first found out those worlds of paramours,
Tells us, that every blossom that we see
Boasts in its walls a separate family;
So that a tree is but a sort of stand
That holds those afilial fairies in its hand;
Just as Swift’s giant might have held a bevy
Of Lilliputian ladies, or a levee.
It is not her that blooms: it is his race,
Who honour his old arms, and hide his rugged face.
Ye wits and bards, then, pray discern your duty,
And learn the lastingness of human beauty.
Your finest fruit to some two months may reach:
I’ve known a cheek at forth like a peach.
But see! the weather calls me. Here’s a bee
Comes bounding in my room imperiously,
And talking to himself, hastily burns
About mine ear, and so in heat returns.
O little brethren of the fervid soul,
Kissers of flowers, lords of the golden bowl,
I follow to your fields and tusted brooks:
Winter’s the time to which the poet looks
For hiving his sweet thoughts, and making honied books.