May-flower from over the sea,
With the bloom still bright on your lips,
And a hint of odor lingering yet
In your delicate petal tips;
Nursling shy of a season wild,
Nature's first and fairest child.
You have come so far, so far,
Tender, beautiful thing,
Out of the sharp New England woods,
And a frosty northern spring,
Yet bringing, methinks, the woodland smell,
Whose spicy wealth I know so well.
Your perfume smote on my sense
Like a delicate, dim complaint;
Subtle meanings seem to hide
In the woodland murmurs faint,
And the city gleaming across the bay
In smoke and shadow faded away.
For one amazing hour
The dull world dies to me,
Sky, tree-top, sudden bird-note grow
Life's sole reality,
And O, to have staid there all alone,
Afar from tiresome school and town!
Flower and I were one,
Earth held us to her heart,
Her fragrant breath was on our brows—
But she let her babes depart;
Stealer and stolen went their ways,
Yet she loved us both in those old days.
Yet, O enchanted Mays,
O woodland odors wild,
Have you ever missed from then to now
The happy-hearted child
That went so blithe through yonder wood,
Your sun and bloom in her dancing blood?
Nay, nature spares us well,
She's our foster-mother at best;
'Tis never she that needs our love,
But we that need her rest;
So she gathers us back to her veins at last,
And new life comes to repeat the past.
But, O forests fair, as of old,
And May-blossoms over the sea,
O merry children despoiling both,
You all belong to me—
For into the past ye slip away,
And lo, the dead years bloom to-day!