Ode in May

Sir William Watson, English 1858-1935

From The Oxford Book of English Poetry


Poem

Let me go forth, and share
The overflowing Sun
With one wise friend, or one
Better than wise, being fair,
Where the pewit wheels and dips
On heights of bracken and ling,
And Earth, unto her leaflet tips,
Tingles with the Spring.

What is so sweet and dear
As a prosperous morn in May,
The confident prime of the day,
And the dauntless youth of the year,
When nothing that asks for bliss,
Asking aright, is denied,
and half of the world a bridegroom is,
And half of the world a bride?

The Song of Mingling flows,
Grave, ceremonial, pure,
As once, from lips that endure,
The cosmic descant rose,
When the temporal lord of life,
Going his golden way,
Had taken a wondrous maid to wife
That long had said his nay.

For of old the Sun, our sire,
Came wooing the mother of men,
Earth, that was virginal then,
Vestal fire to his fire.
Silent her bosom and coy,
But the strong god sued and press’d;
And born of their starry nuptial joy
Are all that drink of her breast.

And the triumph of him that begot,
And the travail of her that bore,
Behold they are evermore
As warp and weft in our lot.
We are children of splendour and flame,
Of shuddering, also, and tears.
Magnificent out of the dust we came,
And abject from the Spheres.

O bright irresistible lord!
We are fruit of earth’s womb, each one,
And fruit of thy loins, O sun,
Whence first was the seed outpour’d.
To thee as our Father we bow,
Forbidden thy father to see,
Who is older and greater than thou, as thou
Art greater and older that we.

Thou art but as a word of his speech;
Thou art but a wave of his hand;
Thou art brief as a glitter of sand
‘Twixt tide and tide on his beach;
Thou art less than a spark of his fire,
Or a moment’s mood of his soul:
Thou are lost in the notes on the lips of his choir
That chant the chant of the Whole.

2010-9