Spring and Death
I had a dream. A wondrous thing:
It seem’d an evening in the Spring:
– A little sickness in the air
From too much fragrance everywhere: –
As I walk’d a stilly wood,
Sudden, Death before me stood:
In a hollow lush and damp,
He seem’d a dismal murky stamp
On the flowers that were seen
His charnelhouse-grate ribs between,
And with coffin-black he barr’d the green.
“Death,” said I, “what do you here
At this Spring season of the year?”
“I mark the flowers ere the prime
Which I may tell at Autumn-time.”
Ere I had further question made
Death was vanished from the glade.
Then I saw that he had bound
Many trees and flowers round
With a subtle web of black,
And that such a sable track,
Lay along the grasses green
From the spot where he had been.
But the Spring-tide pass’d the same;
Summer was as full of flame;
Autumn-time no earlier came.
And the flowers that he had tied,
As I mark’d not always died
Sooner than their mates; and yet
Their fall was fuller of regret:
It seem’d so hard and dismal thing,
Death, to mark them in the Spring.
-Gerard Manly Hopkins