It was a wet wan hour in spring,
And Nature met King Doom beside a lane,
Wherein Hodge trudged, all blithely ballading
The Mother’s smiling reign.
“Why warbles he that skies are fair
And coombs alight,” she cried, “and fallows gay,
When I have placed no sunshine in the air
Or glow on earth to-day?”
“‘Tis in the comedy of things
That such should be,” returned the one of Doom;
“Charge now the scene with brightest blazonings,
And he shall call them gloom.”
She gave the word: the sun outbroke,
All Froomside shone, the hedgebirds raised a song;
And later Hodge, upon the midday stroke,
Returned the lane along,
Low murmuring: “O this bitter scene,
And thrice accurst horizon hung with gloom!
How deadly like this sky, these fields, these treen,
To trappings of the tomb!”
The Beldame then: “The fool and blind!
Such mad perverseness who may apprehend?” –
“Nay; there’s no madness in it; thou shalt find
Thy law there,” said her friend.
“When Hodge went forth ’twas to his Love,
To make her, ere this eve, his wedded prize,
And Earth, despite the heaviness above,
Was bright as Paradise.
“But I sent on my messenger,
With cunning arrows poisonous and keen,
To take forthwith her laughing life from her,
And dull her little een,
“And white her cheek, and still her breath,
Ere her too buoyant Hodge had reached her side;
So, when he came, he clasped her but in death,
And never as his bride.
“And there’s the humour, as I said;
Thy dreary dawn he saw as gleaming gold,
And in thy glistening green and radiant red
Funereal gloom and cold.”