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May Poems

Table of Contents

  1. May Has Decked the World by Annette Wynne
  2. 'Tis May now in New England by Bliss Carman
  3. In Early May by Bliss Carman
  4. May by Madison Cawein
  5. Home Pictures in May by John Clare
  6. Early May by John Burroughs
  7. In May by John Burroughs
  8. A Sleet-Storm in May by Madison Cawein
  9. May Day by Sara Teasdale
  10. Ode To May by Peter Burn
  11. May by Rebecca Hey
  12. May by Edith Willis Linn
  13. Calling the Violet by Lucy Larcom
  14. May by Henry Sylvester Cornwell
  15. May by Edward Hovell-Thurlow
  16. May by Christina Rossetti
  17. The May After by Ada A. Mosher
  18. The End of May by Katharine Lee Bates

  1. May Has Decked the World

    by Annette Wynne

    May has decked the world, that we
    May bring the brave on land or sea
    Earth's glory on Memorial Day,
    The lovely meadow gifts of May.

    Brave dead, who saved our country, we
    Come with flowers; O living brave, on land or sea,
    We wave the bright Red, White and Blue
    And bring May meadow gifts to you!

  2. 'Tis May now in New England

    by Bliss Carman

    'Tis May now in New England
    And through the open door
    I see the creamy breakers,
    I hear the hollow roar.

    Back to the golden marshes
    Comes summer at full tide,
    But not the golden comrade
    Who was the summer's pride.

  3. In Early May

    by Bliss Carman

    O my dear, the world to-day
    Is more lovely than a dream!
    Magic hints from far away
    Haunt the woodland, and the stream
    Murmurs in his rocky bed
    Things that never can be said.

    Starry dogwood is in flower,
    Gleaming through the mystic woods.
    It is beauty's perfect hour
    In the wild spring solitudes.
    Now the orchards in full blow
    Shed their petals white as snow.

    All the air is honey-sweet
    With the lilacs white and red,
    Where the blossoming branches meet
    In an arbor overhead.
    And the laden cherry trees
    Murmur with the hum of bees.

    All the earth is fairy green,
    And the sunlight filmy gold,
    Full of ecstasies unseen,
    Full of mysteries untold.
    Who would not be out-of-door,
    Now the spring is here once more!

  4. Home Pictures in May

    by John Clare

    The sunshine bathes in clouds of many hues
    And morning's feet are gemmed with early dews,
    Warm daffodils about the garden beds
    Peep through their pale slim leaves their golden heads,
    Sweet earthly nuns of Spring; the gosling broods
    In coats of sunny green about the road
    Waddle in extasy; and in rich moods
    The old hen leads her flickering chicks abroad,
    Oft scuttling 'neath her wings to see the kite
    Hang wavering o'er them in the spring's blue light.
    The sparrows round their new nests chirp with glee
    And sweet the robin Spring's young luxury shares
    Tootling its song in feathery gooseberry tree
    While watching worms the gardener's spade unbares.

  5. May

    by Madison Cawein

    The golden discs of the rattlesnake-weed,
    That spangle the woods and dance—
    No gleam of gold that the twilights hold
    Is strong as their necromance:
    For, under the oaks where the woodpaths lead,
    The golden discs of the rattlesnake-weed
    Are the May's own utterance.

    The azure stars of the bluet bloom,
    That sprinkle the woodland's trance—
    No blink of blue that a cloud lets through
    Is sweet as their countenance:
    For, over the knolls that the woods perfume,
    The azure stars of the bluet bloom
    Are the light of the May's own glance.

    With her wondering words and her looks she comes,
    In a sunbeam of a gown;
    She needs but think and the blossoms wink,
    But look, and they shower down.
    By orchard ways, where the wild bee hums,
    With her wondering words and her looks she comes
    Like a little maid to town.

  6. Early May

    by John Burroughs

    The time that hints the coming leaf,
    When buds are dropping chaff and scale,
    And, wafted from the greening vale,
    Are pungent odors, keen as grief.

    Now shad-bush wears a robe of white,
    And orchards hint a leafy screen;
    While willows drop their veils of green
    Above the limpid waters bright.

    New songsters come with every morn,
    And whippoorwill is overdue,
    While spice bush gold is coined anew
    Before her tardy leaves are born.

    The cowslip now with radiant face
    Makes mimic sunshine in the shade,
    Anemone is not afraid,
    Although she trembles in her place.

    Now adder's-tongue new gilds the mould,
    The ferns unroll their woolly coils,

    And honey-bee begins her toils
    Where maple trees their fringe unfold.

    The goldfinch dons his summer coat,
    The wild bee drones her mellow bass,
    And butterflies of hardy race
    In genial sunshine bask and float.

    The Artist now is sketching in
    The outlines of his broad design
    So soon to deepen line on line,
    Till June and summer days begin.

    Now Shadow soon will pitch her tent
    Beneath the trees in grove and field,
    And all the wounds of life be healed,
    By orchard bloom and lilac scent.

  7. In May

    by John Burroughs

    When grosbeaks show a damask rose
    Amid the cherry blossoms white,
    And early robins' nests disclose
    To loving eyes a joyous sight;

    When columbines like living coals
    Are gleaming 'gainst the lichened rocks,
    And at the foot of mossy boles
    Are young anemones in flocks;

    When ginger-root beneath twin leaves
    Conceals its dusky floral bell,
    And showy orchid shyly weaves
    In humid nook its fragrant spell;

    When dandelion's coin of gold
    Anew is minted on the lawn,
    And apple trees their buds unfold,
    While warblers storm the groves at dawn;

    When such delights greet eye and ear,
    Then strike thy tasks and come away:
    It is the joy-month of the year,
    And onward sweeps the tide of May.

    When farmhouse doors stand open wide
    To welcome in the balmy air,
    When truant boys plunge in the tide,
    And school-girls knots of violets wear;

    When grapevines crimson in the shoot,
    Like fin of trout in meadow stream,
    And morning brings the thrush's flute
    Where dappled lilies nod and dream;

    When varied tints outline the trees,
    Like figures sketched upon a screen,
    And all the forest shows degrees
    Of tawny red and yellow-green;

    When purple finches sing and soar,
    Then drop to perch on open wing,
    With vernal gladness running o'er—
    The feathered lyrist of the spring:

    When joys like these salute the sense,
    And bloom and perfume fill the day,
    Then waiting long hath recompense,
    And all the world is glad with May.

  8. A Sleet-Storm in May

    by Madison Cawein

    On southern winds shot through with amber light,
    Breathing soft balm and clothed in cloudy white,
    The lily-fingered Spring came o'er the hills,
    Waking the crocus and the daffodils.
    O'er the cold Earth she breathed a tender sigh—
    The maples sang and flung their banners high,
    Their crimson-tasselled pennons, and the elm
    Bound his dark brows with a green-crested helm.
    Beneath the musky rot of Autumn's leaves,
    Under the forest's myriad naked eaves,
    Life woke and rose in gold and green and blue,
    Robed in the starlight of the twinkling dew.

    With timid tread adown the barren wood
    Spring held her way, when, lo! before her stood
    White-mantled Winter wagging his white head,
    Stormy his brow and stormily he said:
    'The God of Terror, and the King of Storm,
    Must I remind thee how my iron arm
    Raised my red standards 'mid these conquered bowers,
    Turning their green to crimson?—Thou, with flowers,
    Thou wouldst supplant me! nay! usurp my throne!—
    Audacious one!'—And at her breast he tossed
    A bitter javelin of ice and frost;
    And left her lying on th' unfeeling mould.
    The fragile blossoms, gathered in the fold
    Of her warm bosom, fell in desolate rows
    About her beauty, and, like fragrant snows,
    Covered her lovely hands and beautiful feet,
    Or on her lips lay like last kisses sweet
    That died there. Lilacs, musky of the May,
    And bluer violets and snowdrops lay
    Entombed in crystal, icy dim and fair,
    Like teardrops scattered in her heavenly hair.

    Alas! sad heart, break not beneath the pain!
    Time changeth all; the Beautiful wakes again.—
    We should not question such; a higher power
    Knows best what bud is ripest or what flower,
    And silently plucks it at the fittest hour.

  9. May Day

    by Sara Teasdale

    A delicate fabric of bird song
    Floats in the air,
    The smell of wet wild earth
    Is everywhere.

    Red small leaves of the maple
    Are clenched like a hand,
    Like girls at their first communion
    The pear trees stand.

    Oh I must pass nothing by
    Without loving it much,
    The raindrop try with my lips,
    The grass with my touch;

    For how can I be sure
    I shall see again
    The world on the first of May
    Shining after the rain?

  10. Ode To May

    by Peter Burn

    Queen of months, supremely fair,
    Cloth'd with garments rich and rare,
    None in beauty can compare
    With thee, sweet May.

    Lovely month, thou bringest mirth,
    Spreadest sweetness o;er the earth,
    Causest Nature to give birth
    To fruits and flowers.

    Thou art lov'd by young and old.
    Joys for each thou dost unfold;
    Never shall our hearts grow cold
    To thee, sweet May.

  11. May

    by Rebecca Hey

    The clouds "have wept their fill" the whole night long,
    And what a change is wrought! But yesterday,
    We look'd around, and scarce could deem that May,
    The poet's theme,—the month of flowers and song,—
    Could do her own sweet lineaments such wrong
    As to frown on us like a very shrew:
    To-day, we feel what poets sing is true;
    Like them, we hail her reign, and wish it long.
    See, how each budding spray, each floweret fair
    Retains the liquid treasure! how the trees,
    Lest summer should o'ertake them unaware,
    Haste to unfold their leaflets to the breeze;
    While in the orchard every moss-grown stem,
    And sapling shoot, a thousand blossoms gem!

  12. May

    by Edith Willis Linn

    A white shower falls from the apple tree,
    Good-bye good-bye, sweet May!
    I will not mourn at beauty lost,
    For there comes as fair a day;
    But such a wealth of sweets is thine,
    Such blooms of flower and spray,
    We can but sigh that gaining June,
    We still must lose our May.

    Only for once in the whole long year
    Are the trees so robed in bloom;
    Only for once the lilac flowers
    Yield up such rare perfume;
    Only for once the birds sing forth
    A melody so gay;
    The sweetest promise of the year
    Comes with the flowers of May.

    We dream of these days through the winter long,
    When dreary lies the snow,
    And picture forth what joys were ours
    In the Mays of long ago;
    But when the time brings forth the bloom
    From the buds of leaf and spray,
    We find our loveliest dreams were vain
    To show the sweets of May.

    And waking morn, with golden sun,
    Is filled with gladdest sound,
    The chords of music seem to thrill
    Along the very ground,
    For insect life awakes and moves
    To join the roundelay
    That breaks along the happy earth
    In the fair time of May.

    Our hearts forget from year to year
    How pink the apple bloom,
    We cannot carry in our mind
    Such wealth of rich perfume;
    At every step we feel surprise
    At the glory of the day,
    And wonder if the world has been
    As fair in every May.

    But time has in its bosom much
    To give for our delight.
    There is a promise in the flower
    So beautiful and white.
    The green fields mean a fair, rich yield
    When spring has passed away,
    And the birds will know a deeper joy
    Than comes to them in May.

    Fall down, fall down, oh! shower of white
    And make the ground like snow,
    For underneath those petals fair
    The fruit is hid, I know.
    And hasten on, oh! golden sun,
    There's joy with every day
    Our world would not be half as rich
    If life could be all May.

  13. Calling the Violet

    by Lucy Larcom

    Dear Little Violet,
    Don't be afraid!
    Lift your blue eyes
    From the rock's mossy shade!
    All the birds call for you
    Out of the sky;
    May is here, waiting,
    And here, too, am I.

    Come, pretty Violet,
    Winter's away:
    Come, for without you
    May isn't May.
    Down through the sunshine
    Wings flutter and fly;—
    Quick, little Violet,
    Open your eye!

    Hear the rain whisper,
    "Dear Violet, come!"
    How can you stay
    In your underground home?
    Up in the pine-boughs
    For you the winds sigh.
    Homesick to see you,
    Are we—May and I.

  14. May

    by Henry Sylvester Cornwell

    Come walk with me along this willowed lane,
    Where, like lost coinage from some miser's store,
    The golden dandelions more and more
    Glow, as the warm sun kisses them again!
    For this is May! who with a daisy chain
    Leads on the laughing Hours; for now is o'er
    Long winter's trance. No longer rise and roar
    His forest-wrenching blasts. The hopeful swain, Along the furrow, sings behind his team;
    Loud pipes the redbreast—troubadour of spring,
    And vocal all the morning copses ring;
    More blue the skies in lucent lakelets gleam;
    And the glad earth, caressed by murmuring showers,
    Wakes like a bride, to deck herself with flowers!

  15. May

    by Edward Hovell-Thurlow

    May! queen of blossoms,
    And fulfilling flowers,
    With what pretty music
    Shall we charm the hours?
    Wilt thou have pipe and reed,
    Blown in the open mead?
    Or to the lute give heed
    In the green bowers?

    Thou hast no need of us,
    Or pipe or wire;
    Thou hast the golden bee
    Ripened with fire;
    And many thousand more
    Songsters, that thee adore,
    Filling earth's grassy floor
    With new desire.

    Thou hast thy mighty herds,
    Tame and free-livers;
    Doubt not, thy music too
    In the deep rivers;
    And the whole plumy flight
    Warbhng the day and night—
    Up at the gates of light,
    See, the lark quivers!

  16. May

    by Christina Rossetti

    I cannot tell you how it was;
    But this I know: it came to pass
    Upon a bright and breezy day
    When May was young; ah, pleasant May!
    As yet the poppies were not born
    Between the blades of tender corn;
    The last eggs had not hatched as yet,
    Nor any bird foregone its mate.

    I cannot tell you what it was;
    But this I know: it did but pass.
    It passed away with sunny May,
    With all sweet things it passed away,
    And left me old, and cold, and gray.

  17. The May After

    by Ada A. Mosher

    They say that it is May, and, dear, I see
    Abloom the lilac and the Judas-tree;
    And in the waking woodlands, fluttering,
    Like bevy of white butterflies awing.
    Glints here and there the dogwood's blossoming.
    But O, for all to me—'t is May to me
    No more than this worn picture, dear, is thee;
    Thee, whose warm cheek pressed close against mine own—
    May's image this—her soul with thine is flown.

    And May—why I remember, May was young—
    And now I stand these wildwood flowers among;
    But they are older than the forest trees—
    As old as earth is—I can see in these
    All of creation's withered centuries!
    Aye, they are parched and dry as desert sand—
    Grave-grass alone is young in this lone land—
    Ah, no, they thoughtless speak, beloved, who say,
    Forgetting thou art gone, that this is May.

  18. The End of May

    by Katharine Lee Bates

    The fragrant air is full of down,
    Of floating, fleecy things
    From some forgotten fairy town
    Where all the folk wear wings.

    Or else the snowflakes, soft arrayed
    In dainty suits of lace,
    Have ventured back in masquerade,
    Spring's festival to grace.

    Or these, perchance, are fleets of fluff,
    Laden with rainbow seeds,
    That count their cargo rich enough
    Though all its wealth be weeds.

    Or come they from the golden trees,
    Where dancing blossoms were,
    That now are drifting on the breeze,
    Sweet ghosts of gossamer?