Verse > Anthologies > Harriet Monroe, ed. > Poetry: A Magazine of Verse, 1912–22
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Harriet Monroe, ed. (1860–1936).  Poetry: A Magazine of Verse.  1912–22.
 
Lyra Vernalis
By Arthur Johnson
 
  OFT have I seen you, lovely as of old
Though Winter still forbade your birds to sing,
  Steal by the silent houses barred to cold,
Around a sunlit corner vanishing.
  With hooded face and mantle gray, few know        5
    How in these peopled days you pass
  With hesitant comings, hastenings away,
    Through every street, by every stretch of grass,
  From wood to distant wood, where’er you go,
To gaze upon some frozen spot        10
    And bid the frost depart,
    Of many a gentle thing to feel the heart,
    Judging the days before that pulse shall leap
    Fresh out of sleep,
      Sudden awake        15
      To glow and merrymake
In tune with the gay measure of its lot.
 
  So have I waited long today, for sure
This happy sun, this wealth of southern air,
  This desolation made by sleep more pure,        20
This emptiness, will tempt you forth to fare
  And earth will wake once more.
    Now is the first sweet respite of the year;
    Too long, too long have you been stranger here—
    Too long you tarry now—so soon before        25
  New storms with freshened force will rage;
    O Spring, what keeps you now!
    When every tree, when every naked bough
  Needs your assurance, when all spent things wait
  In fear which but your coming would assuage:—        30
  Spring, Spring—be not too late!
The trodden soil conceals no trace of you
  Whose footprint I could tell in any place.
And yet, methought that maid with raiment blue
  Who fled so fast, had a familiar face—        35
Some look of youth the Winter failed to heed
  Perhaps; and now yon sapling is more green.
  What laughter is it, from what source unseen
Came that low mocking shout? Behold a steed
  Leaps as if happy to be driven        40
    Along the winged way!
    Oh, am I mad or did his driver gay
  Lean from that dirty cart to wave farewell—
  A finger to her lips as warning given
Lest I her secret tell?        45
 
  Across wet meadows where the wild thyme sleeps,
Where lonely pools are forming in the sedge,
  I fain would track you past the ice-hung steeps
Along the sinuous river’s melting edge,
  To where alone there is a little hollow.        50
    A slender streamlet trickles from the ground,
    And stooping over it you gaze around
  To see what charmed thing perchance may follow.
    There kneeling on the early mud
  At last, O Spring, at last,        55
Would I might come upon you silently!—
  My arm about your shivering shoulders passed,
My hand beneath the head thrown back for me,
  For me the breast a-flower in every bud,—
The eyes of ecstasy!        60
 
  Why must your journey in such desperate haste
Without another curious glance behind?
  There is a promise in this barren waste,
And from that southern way you went the wind
  Brings an old fragrance back to things bereft        65
    Of all old fragrances. Alas, too soon
    Fall the long shadows of the afternoon.
With fingers deft
  Dusk lights the stars in heaven’s pale gulf of blue.
  Where, where are you        70
  Who should on earth make the sky’s vision true?
Now, even, have you sought that couch you left,
  Where, when clouds ominously rise,
    Dreaming, you may forget
    How late will bloom the timid violet?        75
Or on some quiet height, perhaps, you stand—
  To view afar, with passion-laden eyes,
The desolated land.
 
 
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