Now the Sick Earth Revives

by Robert Hillyer

Now the sick earth revives, and in the sun
The wet soil gives a fragrance to the air;
The days of many colours are begun,
And early promises of meadows fair
With starry petals, and of trees now bare
Soon to be lyric with the trilling choir,
And lovely with new leaves, spread everywhere
A subtle flame that sets the heart on fire
With thoughts of other springs and dreams of new desire.

The mind will never dwell within the present,
It weeps for vanished years or hopes for new;
This morn of wakened warmth, so calm, so pleasant,
So gaily gemmed with diadems of dew,
When buds swell on the bough, and robins woo
Their loves with notes bell-like and crystal-clear,
The spirit stirs from sleep, yet wonders, too,
Whence comes the hint of sorrow or of fear
Making it move rebellious within its narrow sphere.

This flash of sun, this flight of wings in riot,
This festival of sound, of sight, of smell,
Wakes in the spirit a profound disquiet,
And greeting seems the foreword of farewell.
Budding like all the world, the soul would swell
Out of its withering mortality;
Flower immortal, burst from its heavy shell,
Fly far with love beyond the world and sea,
Out of the grasp of change, from time and twilight free.

Could the unknowing gods, waked in compassion,
Eternalize the splendour of this hour,
And from the world's frail garlands strongly fashion
An ageless Paradise, celestial bower,
Where our long-sundered souls could rise in power
To the complete fulfilment of their dream,
And never know again that years devour
Petals and light, bird-note and woodland theme,
And floods of young desire, bright as a silver stream,

Should we be happy, thou and I together,
Lying in love eternally in spring,
Watching the buds unfold that shall not wither,
Hearing the birds calling and answering,

When the leaves stir and all the meadows ring?
Smelling the rich earth steaming in the sun,
Feeling between caresses the light wing
Of the wind whose gracious flight is never done,—
Should we be happy then? happy, elusive One?

But no, here in this fragile flesh abides
The secret of a measureless delight,
Hidden in dying beauty there resides
Something undying, something that takes its flight
When the dust turns to dust, and day to night,
And spring to fall, whose joys in love redeem
Eternally, life's changes and death's blight,
Even as these pale, tender petals seem
A glimpse of infinite beauty, flashed in a passing dream.

Monadnock Valley Press > Hillyer