Dance Of The Seasons

by Harriet Monroe

Harriet Monroe


Wake ! wake !
Out of the snow and the mist,
In rain-wet wind-blown gauze
Of amber and amethyst,
Cometh Spring like a girl.
Trembling and timorous
She peers through the thin white thaws,
Afraid of the winds that whirl
Down paths all perilous
Where her so tender feet are softly going,
Where the rich earth is awaiting her lavish sowing
Of green and purple and white
In the gardens of day and night.

Hither she comes-
Oh lightly she wavers and lingers!
The chill gray storm benumbs
Her lifted rose-petal fingers,
And looses her hair from its fillet of pearl.
Her soft, dew-fringed eyes-
The virginal eyes of a girl-
Gaze at the foam-veiled skies,
Search for the sun who is hiding
His amorous glowing face,
For the spirit of life now gliding
Unseen through every place.

Blown! blown-
Hither and yon,
Dashed by the winds that groan,
Lashed by the frost-elves wan,
Whipped by the envious ghosts of old years long gone,
That chatter and sigh
Of the ruin nigh,
Of death and darkness and sorrow that come anon.
Yet bold and brave
She dares-the young Spring-to dance on that ancient grave,
To dance with delicate feet
On the world's despair and defeat,
On the Winter's ashen pall
That covers all.

Look! she lifts the cover-
A corner of that frost-film pall she lifts.
Now Earth, great-hearted lover,
Smiles upward through the dew-bespangled rifts.
And shining sunbeams, pages of the day,
Roll up the mantle, bear it far away.
Then the Earth laughs with pleasure,
And tosses from her treasure
Store of blue crocuses and snow-drops white,
Glad trilliums that make the woodland bright,
Rich arbutus and shadowy violets:
Till, caught in webs of bloom,
Light-footed Spring her stormy woe forgets,
Forgets the cold, the gloom,
Blesses with errant grace
Each dim forgotten place,
Of drooping leaves, muffles the maples bare
In lilac veils, covers with tenderness
The harsh brown world; and then, when all is won,
Trails languorous dreams, dreams exquisite and rare,
And shrinking from the bold, too-fervid sun,
Shyly gives over
Her royal lover,
Like one afraid of love, who will not stay
Love's perfect day;
Lightly gives over-
Inconstant rover-
Her glad fresh-garlanded world, and like the dew
Sleeps in the blue.
She tosses down
Her flowery crown
Into the lap of Summer-
Glad newcomer!-
Smiling adorns her with treasure of growing things,
And softly sings,
Even while she fades in light-
A wraith, a mist
Of amethyst;
A spirit, a dream that goes,
But whither-who knows?


Hush! hush! Wake not the drowsy Summer-she would dream,
Heavy with growing things.
Dance lightly where her beauty lies agleam
Under languidly folded wings.
Over the delicate grasses
A breath, a spirit passes,
A song, and the odor of bloom-
Give way! make room!
The Summer has met her lover
By day, by night;
He has brought from the stars-bright rover-
Heaven's fire, heaven's light!
He has filled her with life that sleepeth,
That waits for birth,
As a jewel its bright fire keepeth
In the rock-bound earth.

Softly, slowly
Dance and sway,
While Summer dreameth
The moons away.
Full weary she seemeth
Of love's deep bliss,
But holy, holy
Love's memories.

The idle day is rich with budding things
Whereon the bold sun glares.
Dance lightly, lest you tread on folded wings,
Of flight still unawares.
Ah, delicate your footfall be, while ever
The seed grows in the corn,
The bird in the egg, the deed in the endeavor,
The day in the morn.
Deep in the pool the spawning fishes play;
High in the air the bees buzz out their way.

The children of Summer come crowding in lustrous array-
The myriad children of Summer, beloved of the sun,
Through the long hot noons they are glad of the world they have won.
Bright and fair
They throng in the meadows and shake out the dew from their hair;
They sing in the tree-tops, they dip in the slow-flowing stream;
They nod from the hills, in the valleys their swift feet gleam;
They kneel in the moonlight, the bright stars hear their prayer.
The high sun blesses them,
The moon confesses them,
Old Time with patient smile
Harks to their hope awhile.
They are born, they awake, they arise-now they dance in their bloom;
For their revels of love and of wonder the earth makes room.
Oh, she harks to their song for a season, she kisses their feet;
She gives them her all for their hour-be its joy complete!

The fecund Summer then
Covers her eyes again-
Lies dreaming, at rest:
Young mother of life who is feeding
The world at her breast;
Rich bride of the year, ever needing
But love and light
To give, and give more, and give all
In her great love's might.
Tread softly, give heed to her call-
Oh be still! be fleet!
Hush-hush the sweet sound of your singing;
Pause-pause, ye feet!
Sink down! she bids you rest
Close on her breast.
Down! down ! your rapture flinging
Where all her dreams are winging.
Ah, cease your quest!
Peace!-be blest !
Be blest!


Come with me-
All that live!
Dance with me-
Love-and give !
Give me your love, ye souls of the corn and the vine!
Dance with me! laugh with me! crowd me! be mine-be mine!
Up from the earth in your splendor of scarlet and gold-
Haste, oh make haste ere the warm rich year grow old!
Ye throngs that gaily rise
As the red red leaves that flutter
All tremulous
When the wind rides down from the skies;
Ye spirits that shout and mutter
In laughter, in pain,
When the year of her sowing and reaping
Would waste again,
Come spend of your treasure, full heaping,
Be lavish, be bold!
Cast your hope on the winds, from your feet shake the dark damp mould;
Come dancing, come shouting, come leaping,
Ere the earth grow cold!

Come, wings of the air; come, feet that trample the grasses!
Come, tree-top spirits that kindle the leaves to flame!
Come, sprites of the sea that shout when the gray storm passes !
Come, wraiths of the desert whom sorrow nor death may tame!
Come eat of the rich ripe fruit, come drink of the vine!
Come dance till your revels are drunken with joy, with wine.
For the labor is over and done,
The spoil of the battle is won!
Ah trample it, scatter it,
Cast it afar!
The tempests will batter it-
On with the war!
Let your bright robes float, let them whirl with the rush of your feet-
The gauzes of crimson and gold!
Give your will to the winds-they are chasing, they haste, they are fleet,
They are eager and ruthless and bold.
On ! on! till you circle the earth with the rush of your dancing,
With the shout and the song;
Till your choral of crowds, like a river in flood-time advancing,
Bears all things along!
Dance! dance! for the end comes soon-
Do you feel the chill?
White winds of the Winter croon
From their cave in the hill.
Yes, death and the end come soon-
Spread your gaudy robes!
Haste! haste! for the leaves are falling.
Shout! shout! for the storms are calling.
Give all, for the year grows old.
And the world grows cold.


Fly! fly!
Gather your white robes close-
Scuttle away!
Look! in the sky
The bleak winds mutter morose
To the swift dark day.
They gather and threaten and scold,
They shiver and shriek in their rage.
They are ashen and icy and old-
Ah, bitter the passion of age!
Flee from them! haste-haste
Through the vengeful weather!
Lest your red blood chill
And your hearts stop still,
Crowd close together
And flee o'er the drear dead waste!

Down! down!
Out of a sky all brown
The dark storm stoops to shrivel the world away.
With ribald wind he strips her,
With stinging sleet he whips her,
With envious frost he withers her green to gray.
Because she was gay and glad,
Beloved of many lovers, fruitful mother
Of many children crowding and killing each other;
Because she was wasteful mad,
Scattering and trampling her riches for death to smother,
Now shall she starve and freeze
And pray on her stiffened knees.
Now shall she helpless lie
And the powers of the air will mock her;
The spirits she dared defy
Will rend her and blind her and shock her.
With white white snow they will bury her passion deep
Till it's dumb, till it's cold.
They will whistle and roar in their triumph
Till her heart grows old.
They will put out her love-lit sun like the torch at a feast,
And with haughty carousals make wanton his court in the east.
They will brush down the stars like white feathers far blown on dark waves,
And the night will be black as they dance on the ghost-thronged graves.

Haste! haste!
Your garments are torn, they are sheeted with ice,
In your wind-loosed hair
The sharp sleet rattles.
You are hurled, chased
To the Winter's lair-
You have paid the price,
You have bled in her battles.
Now shelter your woe
And be still, be still!
Let the night-winds go
To their cave in the hill!
Let the dark clouds flee
Through the gates of the west,
Till the earth rides free
Who was sore oppressed.
For weary of orgies that ravage
Is Winter now.
From the heel of a tyrant savage
She lifts her brow.
See-the wrath of the storm is over,
And under a moon-white cover
Lies the world asleep.
So still, so pale-
Dance bravely, lest you quail
And pause to weep.
Over the flower-soft snow
Still as the lost wind go
To open the gates of day.
Where watches yon lone pale star
Crimson and golden are
The curtains that shake and sway.
Ah, lift them! look, through the rift
Comes the sun adrift!
He kindles the snow to fire,
He bids the dead earth aspire.
Oh dance! From the year's white grave
New blooms will blow.
Dance lightly, wistfully! save
The life below!
Softly! the world is still-
Hush your errant will!
No longer the dream pursue!
Rest-rest, till the dream come true!
Wait! hope! be still !

Last updated May 29, 2017