06 November 2013

The First Flowers - An 1857 Nebraska Poem

By J.G.W.
For ages, on our river-borders,
These tassels in their tawny bloom,
And willowy stubs of downy silver,
Have prophesized of Spring to come.
For ages have the unbound waters
Smiled on them from their pebbly hem,
And the clear carol of the robin,
And song of the blue-bird welcomed them.
But never yet, from smiling river,
or song of early bird, have they
Been greeted with a gladder welcome
Than whispers from my heart to-day.
They break the spell of cold and darkness,
The weary watch of sleepless pain;
And from my heart, as from the river,
The ice of Winter melts again.
Thanks, Mary! for this wild-wood taken
Of Freya's footsteps drawing near;
Almost, as in the rune of Asgard,
The growing of the grass I hear.
It is as if the pine-trees called me
From celled room and silent books,
To see this dance of woodland shadows,
And hear the song of April brooks!
As, in the old Testament ballad
Of Odenwald, live bird and tree,
Forever live in song and beauty,
So link my thoughts these flowers and thee.
The small bird's track, the tiny rain-drop,
Forever make the primal rock;
Who knows but that these idle verses
Many leave some trace by Artichoke?
And maidens in the far-off twilights
Repeat my words to breeze and stream,
And wonder if the old-time Mary
Were real or the singer's dream!
April 23, 1857. Farmer's Cabinet 55(38): 1. From the National Era; also May 14, 1857 in the Bellevue Gazette 1(28): 1.