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Stedman and Hutchinson, comps. A Library of American Literature:
An Anthology in Eleven Volumes. 1891.
Vols. IX–XI: Literature of the Republic, Part IV., 1861–1889


By Bayard Taylor (1825–1878)

[From Poetical Works. Household Edition. 1883.]

NIGHTLY the hoar-frost freezes

The young grass of the field,

Nor yet have blander breezes

The buds of the oak unsealed:

Not yet pours out the pine

His airy resinous wine;

But over the southern slope,

In the heat and hurry of hope,

The wands of the peach-tree first

Into rosy beauty burst:

A breath, and the sweet buds ope!

A day, and the orchards bare,

Like maids in haste to be fair,

Lightly themselves adorn

With a scarf the Spring at the door

Has sportively flung before,

Or a stranded cloud of the morn!

What spirit of Persia cometh

And saith to the buds, “Unclose!”

Ere ever the first bee hummeth,

Or woodland wild flower blows?

What prescient soul in the sod

Garlands each barren rod

With fringes of bloom that speak

Of the baby’s tender breast,

And the boy’s pure lip unpressed,

And the pink of the maiden’s cheek?

The swift, keen Orient so

Prophesies as of old,

While the apple’s blood is cold,

Remembering the snow.

Afar, through the mellow hazes

Where the dreams of June are stayed,

The hills, in their vanishing mazes,

Carry the flush, and fade!

Southward they fall, and reach

To the bay and the ocean beach,

Where the soft, half-Syrian air

Blows from the Chesapeake’s

Inlets and coves and creeks

On the fields of Delaware!

And the rosy lakes of flowers,

That here alone are ours,

Spread into seas that pour

Billow and spray of pink

Even to the blue wave’s brink,

All down the Eastern Shore!

Pain, Doubt, and Death are over!

Who thinks, to-day, of toil?

The fields are certain of clover,

The gardens of wine and oil.

What though the sap of the North

Drowsily peereth forth

In the orchards, and still delays?

The peach and the poet know

Under the chill the glow,

And the token of golden days!

What fool, to-day, would rather

In wintry memories dwell?

What miser reach to gather

The fruit these boughs foretell?

No, no!—the heart has room

For present joy alone,

Light shed and sweetness blown,

For odor and color and bloom!

As the earth in the shining sky,

Our lives in their own bliss lie;

Whatever is taught or told,

However men moan and sigh,

Love never shall grow cold,

And Life shall never die!