Earliest Spring

William Dean Howells 1837-1920

From The New Oxford Book of English Verse


Tossing his mane of snows in wildest eddies and tangles,
Lion-like March cometh in, hoarse, with tempestuous bearth,
Through all the moaning chimneys, and ‘thwart all the hollows and angles
round the shuddering house, threating of winter and death.

But in my heart I feel the life of the wood and the meadow
Thrilling the pulses that own kindred with fibres that lift
Bud and blade to the sunward, within the inscrutable shadow,
Deep in the oak’s chill core, under the gathering drift.

Nay, to earth's life in mine some prescience, or dream, or desire
(How shall I name it aright?) comes for a moment and goes
Rapture of life ineffable, perfect – as if in the brier,
Leafless there by my door, trembled a sense of the rose.