Menella Bute Smedley

April Showers

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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.

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Menella Bute Smedley