Where the gaunt bittern stalks among the reeds And flaps his wings, and stretches back his neck, And hoots to see the moon; across the meads Limps the poor frightened hare, a little speck; And a stray seamew with its fretful cry Flits like a sudden drift of snow against the dull grey sky.
Full winter: and the lusty goodman brings His load of faggots from the chilly byre, And stamps his feet upon the hearth, and flings The sappy billets on the waning fire, And laughs to see the sudden lightening scare His children at their play, and yet, - the spring is in the air;
Already the slim crocus stirs the snow, And soon yon blanched fields will bloom again With nodding cowslips for some lad to mow, For with the first warm kisses of the rain The winter's icy sorrow breaks to tears, And the brown thrushes mate, and with bright eyes the rabbit peers
From the dark warren where the fir-cones lie, And treads one snowdrop under foot, and runs Over the mossy knoll, and blackbirds fly Across our path at evening, and the suns Stay longer with us; ah! how good to see Grass-girdled spring in all her joy of laughing greenery
Dance through the hedges till the early rose, (That sweet repentance of the thorny briar!) Burst from its sheathed emerald and disclose The little quivering disk of golden fire Which the bees know so well, for with it come Pale boy's-love, sops-in-wine, and daffadillies all in bloom.
Then up and down the field the sower goes, While close behind the laughing younker scares With shrilly whoop the black and thievish crows, And then the chestnut-tree its glory wears, And on the grass the creamy blossom falls In odorous excess, and faint half-whispered madrigals
Steal from the bluebells' nodding carillons Each breezy morn, and then white jessamine, That star of its own heaven, snap-dragons With lolling crimson tongues, and eglantine In dusty velvets clad usurp the bed And woodland empery, and when the lingering rose hath shed
Red leaf by leaf its folded panoply, And pansies closed their purple-lidded eyes, Chrysanthemums from gilded argosy Unload their gaudy scentless merchandise, And violets getting overbold withdraw From their shy nooks, and scarlet berries dot the leafless haw.