Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, MAY CELEBRANTS, by WILLIAM ROSE BENET

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Classic and Contemporary Poetry

MAY CELEBRANTS, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Winter, the dotard, with snow-splashed hollies
Last Line: Through the rough, brown bark she fades from sight!
Subject(s): Love

Winter, the dotard, with snow-splashed hollies
Wry-wreathed on his sleety streaming hair,
Has fled from the rout of the April follies,
Pelted with petals, to scorn stripped bare;
Snowy smother and sleety glare
Washed by the showers to swell the sea.
The scattering streams are on their way.
'Tis triumph for every bud and wing!
The doublets of all the trees are gay.
The burdened branches flutter and fling
Spikenard odors to scent this May
With sweetness for every heart today.
Then up and away—away—away—
Away down the magic ways of spring!

Rivers of ripple-dream, rivers roiling,—
Aisles of the forest, whose carpets deep
Blue firstlings broider with fairy patterns
Where mouldy Fall leaves once slept,—the slatterns!
Purge us and shower a soul's assoiling!
Oh, sweeten our souls as we breathe yours deep!
Shower us round with your flash and light,
Wonder immortal and infinite!
Here and there and everywhere,
As a hare from its form, as a bird from cover,
The ecstatic soul starts forth, aware
Of the winds of spring and their rapturous wine,—
Starts passionate pilgrim and thirsting lover
To new spells of distance and views made over
Where freshly vestitured vistas shine.

We are one with the impulse of the sod,
With the flower's dream and the flower's God,
With the burning bronze of the patriarch trees,
With the burst of sky in the open glade,—
Uplifted, Olympic, and unafraid!
We are beauty's bondmen on trembling knees,
And aspen leaves at an aspen's nod.

Oh, tell us, river so deep to gaze in,
Diaphane that the sunlight, the elflight plays in,
Where tossing tresses of brown and green
Ripple and run crystal whorls between,
Where the little wimpled wavelets dance,
Toss fingers, and flicker a roguish glance,—
Oh, tell us, is not your dream to be
In the cherishing arms of your lover the sea,
Welcomed and soothed on the breast of the sea,
That you hasten onward so joyfully?

Here at the high cliff's foot, its thunder,
Shocking reverberance of its might,
The great athlete sea, of majestic light
And furious breakers, and sound rolled under;
With hiss and sparkle and seethe; deep-hued
With stains that some sea-god's death imbrued!

Here to sonorous litany
Squadron on squadron the breakers flee,
Dash and wrestle and clasp and drown.
And afar we know, though we may not see,
Old Triton, dripping and gurgled deep,
With his trident, is loosing the gulls alea;
Marshalling his host, green steep on steep,
For assault where the drifted dune-banks sleep!

Into the woods!—for a light foot spurns
Its marge, where the violets kiss the ferns.
Into the woods!—for a goddess flees
Rosy and laughing between the trees.
Yet ever her draperies, streaming free,
Elude us, this daylight, to grasp and hold.
A bird is her breast, and her veins run light.
She is not for us in her madcap flight.
She is far too shy—she is far too bold!
So night draws on. Till presently
With gem-like lustres the stars' soft fire
Jewels the boughs of that darkest tree
Whither gleams our goddess. One gesture bright
And—symbol of rapture and rich desire—
Through the rough, brown bark she fades from sight!

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