May-Day, 1837

Poem By Caroline Elizabeth Sarah Norton

I.

MAY-DAY is come!--While yet the unwillng Spring
Checks with capricious frown the opening year,
Onward, where bleak winds have been whispering,
The punctual Hours their ancient playmate bear;
But those who long have look'd for thee, stand by,
Like men who welcome back a friend bereaved,
And camnot smile, because his sadden'd eye
Doth mutely tell them how his soul is grieved.
Even thus too greet thine alter'd face to-day,
Thou friend in mourning garb!--chill, melancholy May!
II.

To thee the first and readiest smiles of Earth,
Lovely with life renew'd, were always given,--
To thee belong'd the sunshine and the mirth
Which bathed all Nature with a glow from Heaven,--
To thee the joy of Childhood's earnest heart,
His shouting song, and light elastic tread,
His brows high arch'd, and laughing lips apart,
Bright as the wreath that bound his rosy head.--
Thou wert of Innocence the holiday,
Thou garlanded and glad!--thou ever-blooming May!
III.

Yet will I not reproach thee for thy change:
Closed be the flower, and leafless be the tree!
Smile not as thou wert wont; but sad, and strange,
And joyless, let thy tardy coming be!
So shall I miss those infant voices less,
Calling each other through the garden bowers,
Meeting and parting in wild happiness,
Leading a light dance thro' the sunny hours;
Those little mirthful hearts, who, far away,
Breathe, amid cloud-capp'd hills, a yet more wintry May!
IV.

Ah, boys! your play-ground is a desert spot,
Revisited alone, and bathed with tears;
And where ye pass your May-day, knoweth not
The mother who hath watch'd your dawning years.
Mine is no more the joy to see ye come,
And deem each step hath some peculiar grace!
Yours is no more the mother's welcome home,
Smiling at each beloved, familiar face!
And I an thankfiul that this dreary May
Recals not, save by name, that brighter, happier day!
V.

I should have felt more mock'd, if there had been
More peace and sunshine round me,--had the grove,
Clad in transparent leaves of tender green,
Been full of murm'ring sounds of Nature's love;
I should have wept more bitterly beneath
The frail laburnum trees, so faint and fair,--
I should have sicken'd at the lilac's breath,
Thrown by the warm sun on the silent air;
But now, with stern regret I wend my way--
I know thee not,--thou cold, and unfamiliar May!

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