It is the spring! prepare the seeds,
And tender plants, new bloom to show;
Turn the rich earth; pull up the weeds;
And clear each cumbered garden row!
Waste not the wealth of April showers,
Nor sunshine, which our need befriends;
Think! on these evanescent hours
The harvest of the year depends.
Already, necklaces of buds
Adorn the sapling's tender stem;
And firs, bedewed with diamond studs,
Rear up a greener diadem.
Already, gleams of colour break
Where all was black with thorns before;
And gentle waves sweet murmur make,
Slow rippling to the silent shore!
Nor only dumb, quiescent things
The spell that broods amongst them own;
The beaten air is full of wings,
Earth thrills with many an insect tone:
God's woodland innocents prepare,
For gladder days and fresher life;
Close sits the timorous brooding hare,
With wooing birds the boughs are rife.
All nature wakes from wintry sleep,
Throws off her veil of frosty rime,
And calls from mead and mountain steep,
"Now is the time; now is the time,
Now is the hour of golden prime!"
Oh, Youth! sweet spring of human birth,
Shalt thou not claim our equal care?
Shall all the gladness be for earth —
Nor sentient souls the guerdon share?
Shall not a goodlier grain be brought,
Than ripens 'neath the orb of day,
Shall we not prune the shoots of thought,
And bind the passions where they stray?
Shall we not yearn, with ceaseless watch,
To win God's blessing on our toil,
Hoping those beams of grace to catch,
Which warm a far more priceless soil:
A soil whose garden is the heart,
Where flowers of Paradise may bloom,
If grafting skill true growth impart
And leave the worthless weeds no room?
Yea! though at times mysterious blight
Frustrate the joy we thought to earn,
Still let us hail the Lord of Light
And look for harvest in return,
With the poor labourer's simple trust,
Who in the book of nature reads
How glory climbs from mouldering dust,
And plenty from the smallest seeds.
And so, through pliant April days,
Of childhood weak and immature —
Train, towards the light, the tender sprays,
And make their heavenward growth secure.
Nor, in the barren after years,
Live to lament the vernal hours,
Which might have kept our eyes from tears
And crowned our path of life with flowers;
While, haunted by the past, we mark
An echo, like a funeral chime,
Toll through the ever-deepening dark, —
"Then was the time; then was the time,
Then was the hour of golden prime!"