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Poem by Menella Bute Smedley
He said there was on earth no fairer sight Than April shadows from the tall green flags We taunted him with overflows of light From walls of sunrise upon Alpine crags; Or pageantries of tropic flowers that swoon In the vague, passionate atmosphere of noon; Or ranks of crested tumult in the deep, Or banners of broad tempest on the sky, But he went murmuring, like a man asleep, About those April shadows constantly, And once I thought I heard him call them “grand.” I smiled, but scoffed not. Then he took my hand, And, looking at me gravely, like a man About to tell a secret, thus began: The great flags grow sedately. Down in glades The riot and hurry of the rising spring Know them for rulers. All their emerald blades, Threaded with fires of gold, stand near the shades, Kept trimly ready for some fairy king; A blossom hides in every guardian sheaf Till summer calls it. Each particular leaf, Sharp as a spear and tender as a plume, Lets fall its little breadth of crystal gloom To wave and flutter on the windy grass, Or to lie still, if not a sigh should pass The lips of patient evening. None can name The colour of these shadows, for they keep The tiny snow-stars and the cups of flame Safe in their shelter, softened, yet the same, Like sights we love remembered in our sleep. On the fine limit of their lines of night, Grasses are gems, and lingering dewdrops sparks; They are not shadows, they are ambushed Light, They are not lights, but they are lustrous darks, Films which no force can rend, no skill hath wrought, Impalpable and permanent as thought. I saw them first—and here he dropped his voice, As if he feared to wrong a sight so choice By talking of it rashly—on a day Of long delight, just at the brink of May; All through rich silence of the woods I heard The young world growing. Aimless and at ease, Moving or pausing, like a joyful bird Who dips and poises on the swinging seas, For ten delicious hours, at last I found These shadows making wonderful the ground For none to see. A sentinel I stood And watched. No louder footstep than a fay's Touched the frail echoes, till with long delays A slow, soft sunset filled and flushed the wood, And sank and left us. Then I understood How all the sweetness of this day of days Had passed into the shadows, till they wore (Like that enchanted ring which seals for good The long love-volume after and before) Its glory in their heart for evermore.
Menella Bute Smedley
Menella Bute Smedley's other poems:
English Poetry. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org