The crocuses are out, upon the lawn;
Their gold and purple cups are all around,
A bright surprise. The ice was hardly gone
Before they poked green tips above
And showed a little folded silken edge,
That held a hope of bloom, a hint alone;
And then this morning, all along the hedge
And in the grass, their vivid colors shone.
Their stalks peep up to such a tiny height,
They seem so tender, yet so youngly bold,
They startle with the sudden sweet delight
Of blossoms rashly sprung to meet the cold.
Today the windows are all open wide
Toward sun and sky and cloud. And in the tide
Of warm spring air, the curtains lift and sink;
A swinging tassel makes a little clink
Against a flower pot where tulips bloom.
A stir and whisper rustles in the room.
When breezes long shut out come sweeping through,
And run sweet riot, as the breezes do
That first invade us in these mellow days,
To hint of April and her friendly ways.
Perhaps we sing too soon, and have not done
With winter winds. Perhaps the willful sun
Will hide again, and bid us cringe and freeze.
Perhaps the frost will pinch and sleet will tease,
But now we take this flawless day of spring,
And give it free and joyous entering.
New York Sun, March 14, 1923
Well I remember, at the mist-blue edge
Of that cold evening, how the plum-tree hedge
Shone pale with fragile bloom; and how
Between the branches, frosty stars that hung
Like brittle winter fruit. And then the night
Came blotting out with dusk the drifted white,
Until the trees of loveliness were reft,
And at the last the stars alone were left.
When down the jagged mountain side
The spring breeze whistled, stinging-clear,
I heard a wind-swept voice that cried,
“Come out! Anemones are here!”
My heart with soft desiring burned
And naught I recked of breathless toil.
For hard my eager fingers yearned
To pluck my purple mountain-spoil.
I climbed the rocks; I ranged around
Where a tempests long their wrath had wrought;
Then in a bleak ravine I found
The flowers that my soul had sought.
I saw their violet petals shine –
For ruthless hand too frailly fair;
I could not brook that hand were mine:
I knelt, and touched – and left them there!
Overland Monthly p. 267 – March 1907
WILD APPLE BLOSSOMS
Among the rocks that bound the river’s brawl,
The wild crab’s straggling branches freshly teem;
Far o’er the bank its ragged shadows fall –
It’s glad pink blossoms rough-mirrored in the stream.
Not meet are they for this late age of ours;
Their strange, sweet fragrance speaks an earlier date.
The primal world is theirs; they seem the flowers
Wherewith some nymph might crown her satyr mate.
Overland Monthly – p. 32 – July 1907
I SAW RED BUDS
I saw red buds upon a maple tree,
When all the branch was tufted white
And in the riven ice where grass should be
Blue scillas showed a timid azure row.
I saw the tall forsythia, aflame
With golden bells, before a bitter gale
Bent all awry; and daffodils that came
To gallant bloom in thunder-gusts and hail.
For so spring ever is: first cold; then warm;
Alluring, then repelling; fierce, then gay;
Now zephyr-bland, and now a-stir with storm,
For spring must work in her own
Under dead leaves, long sodden in the snow,
On rusty stems a few pink petals show;
Lifted, the rosy clusters thrill the eye
With beauty, nurtured in humility.
1728 Regent Street, Madison, Wisconsin
MY APPLE ORCHARD
Against the fading remnant of the snows
Shimmer the shifting boughs, and
To meet the swift, incessant wind
And carries thin, uncertain gusts
Gray, naked twigs that mesh dripping cloud,
What do they know of scented blooms
To living sprays? Can they break through their shroud,
And bourgeon to the ardor of the spring?
Full well my heart the miracle can guess;
What I have seen I may again behold;
From out the south the sun returns to bless
The promise that the barren boughs infold.
What though today the withered stems
I wait, and watch them with a soul serene;
Tomorrow, clear and pink, shall cluster there
Pure coral buds in tender tufts of green.