I know him, February's thrush,
And loud at eve he valentines
On sprays that paw the naked bush
Where soon will sprout the thorns and bines.
Now ere the foreign singer thrills
Our vale his plain-song pipe he pours,
A herald of his million bills;
And heed him not, the loss is yours.
My study, flanked with ivied fir
And budded beech with dry leaves curled,
Perched over yew and juniper,
He neighbors, piping to his world:
The wooded pathways dank on brown,
The branches on grey cloud a web,
The long green roller of the down
An image of the deluge-ebb:
And farther, they may hear along
The stream beneath the poplar row,
By fits, like welling rocks, the song
Spouts of a blushful Spring in flow.
But most he loves to front the vale
When waves of warm southwestern rains
Have left our heavens clear in pale,
With faintest beck of moist red veins:
Vermilion wings, by distance held
To pause aflight while fleeting swift:
And high aloft the pearl inshelled
Her lucid glow in glow will lift:
A little south of colored sky;
Directing, gravely amorous,
The human of a tender eye
Through pure celestial on us.
Remote, not alien; still, not cold;
Unraying yet, more pearl than star;
She seems awhile the vale to hold
In trance, and homelier makes the far.
The Earth her sweet unscented breathes;
An orb of lustre quits the height;
And like broad iris-flags, in wreaths
The sky takes darkness, long ere quite.
His Island voice then shall you hear,
Nor ever after separate
From such a twilight of the year
Advancing to the vernal gate.
He sings me, out of winter's throat,
The young time with the life ahead;
And my young time his leaping note
Recalls to spirit-mirth from dead.
* * * * * * * *
Full lasting is the song, though he,
The singer, passes: lasting too,
For souls not lent in usury,
The rapture of the forward view.
With that I bear my senses fraught
Till what I am fast shoreward drives.
They are the vessel of my Thought.
The vessel splits, the Thought survives.
Nought else are we when sailing brave
Save husks to raise and bid it burn.
Glimpse of its livingness will wave
A light the senses can discern
Across the river of the death
Their close. Meanwhile, O twilight bird
Of promise! bird of happy breath!
I hear, I would the City heard.