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SPRINGTIME IN COOKHAM DEAN, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: How marvellous and fair a thing
Last Line: Where spring performs her miracle.
Subject(s): Cookham Dean, England; Spring

HOW marvellous and fair a thing
It is to see an English spring,
He cannot know who has not seen
The cherry trees at Cookham Dean,
Who has not seen the blossom lie
Like snowdrifts 'gainst a cloudless sky
And found the beauty of the way
Through woodlands odorous with may;
It is a rare, a holy sight
To see the hills with blossom white,
To feel the air about one flowing
With the silent rapture growing
In the hidden heart of things
That yearn, that flower, put forth wings
And show their splendors one by one
Beneath the all-rejoicing sun.

Perhaps the joy of all the earth
Moved through us on that day of mirth
When in the morning air we trod
Hills sacred to the woodland god,
And heard behind us as we ran
The laughter of a hidden Pan,
Who dropped his flute because he heard
The artless cadence of a bird;
And we, who love the southern sky,
One moment ceased to wonder why
A poet in his exile cried
To see an English spring, and sighed
Because a chaffinch from the bough
Sings and shakes the blossom now.
For who would sigh for southern skies
Who once had seen the paradise
Of this new Eden where the flowers
Drench the woods with odorous showers,
And give delight till the sense sickens
With the rapture that it quickens?
This heaven where petals fall as stars,
This paradise where beauty bars
Its petaled, white, inviolable portals
'Gainst the clamoring of mortals,
And from green altars in dim shrines
Calls to the driven soul that pines
For leafy solitude, and prayer
That whispers through the branches there.
When Spring, in her ascension, fills
The chalice of the sacred hills
With blossoms like the driven snow,
And longing takes the heart, then go
On pilgrimage to Cookham Dean
And through dim aisles of shadowed green,
Diapered with the light that trembles
Round each tree till it resembles
A maiden letting fall her hair
In cataracts of gold—draw near
The secret that brings Englishmen,
Faithful through exile, home again,
And watch the wonder of the morn
And hear the lark with wings upborne
Into the cloudless empyrean
Pour his lucent, quenchless pæan,
Or feel the quickened senses start
In rapture of the artless art
Of orchards all in blossom showing
Against the blue of heaven glowing
Through its depths of luminous light;
Then from the windy woodland height
Through dim ravines where tall trees wait
For day's decline to gild their state
And thrill them with caressing fingers
Of the sun-god whose touch lingers
Upon their limbs—by paths that wind
Into the valley go,—and find
The village by the water's edge
And listen to the rustling sedge
That by the churchyard whispers; go—
And tread the woodland paths I know
For whosoever has not seen
The cherry trees at Cookham Dean,
Who has not roamed its hills and found
Delight in that enchanted ground,
He cannot know, he cannot tell
Where Spring performs her miracle.

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