Once a Week (magazine)/Series 1/Volume 10/"April"

“APRIL.”

Witching April, if the sun
Hold not back his genial rays,
And the sharp east wind be gone,
Bane of all the young Spring days;
Thee, of all the months, I choose
For my darling and delight,
With thy soft aërial hues
Sparkling in the tender light.
On the woods a purple glow,
Chequered here and there with green,
Where the slender larches grow,
Or the hawthorn, quaint and low,
Through the open glade is seen.
Chiefly, April, take my thanks
For thy lovely hedge-row banks;
Where the tufts of primroses
Cluster thickly, pure and pale;
And the violet, shy of praise,
Shrinks behind her leafy veil.
While the little furrowed leaves
Of the strawberry peep out near,
And the white-veined ivy weaves
Creeping garlands everywhere.
Now a thousand fresh young things
Push up through the remnant sere
Of the late departed year,—
Sheath’d, and curl’d, and ting’d with pink,—
So that one might almost think
(Lost in sweet imagining!)
They were little fairy elves,
Peeping forth to sun themselves.
Further on, within the wood,
Where the sun comes stealing through
Trees yet bare of leafy hood,
Let us now our way pursue.
Here the wood-anemones,
Seven-rayed stars of spotless white,
Spread their petals to the light,
Gazing with devoted eyes
On their worshipped God of Day;
But if he should hide his face
More than for a moment's space,
All the little band straightway
Fold their snowy petals up,
And each tiny, bell-like cup,
Tinged with blush of lilac bloom,
Earthward droops in graceful gloom.
Here, too, primroses abound,
Nestling in the russet leaves,
And soft moss, which all around

Impress of your foot receives.
Here the Daphnè may be seen,
With its flowers of tender green,
Drooping, glancing out between
Leafy whorl of darkest sheen.
Hum of chirping fills the air—
Voices of loquacious birds,
Singing, talking everywhere,
In a tongue unchsined by words.
Now and then the pheasant’s call
Rings from out the covert near,
And the cuckoo’s accents fall
Oft-repeated on the ear,
Mingled with the soft, low “coo”
Of the ring-dove‘s distant note—
Ring-dove, with his coat of blue,
And his white-encircled throat.
Not yet has the poet’s love,
Peerless-voicèd nightingale,
Poured his music on the grove,
Waiting for the evening pale.
Like the Roman bard, his lays
Are not for the common herd;
Lone and proud, the gifted bird
Seeks a more discerning praise.
When the evening shades appear
Fling thy casement open wide,
That the full melodious tide
May float in and fill thine ear.
So the lovely April day,
Fitly requiemed, dies away.