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Poem by Francis Thompson


July Fugitive


Can you tell me where has hid her
Pretty Maid July?
I would swear one day ago
She passed by,
I would swear that I do know
The blue bliss of her eye:
'Tarry, maid, maid,' I bid her;
But she hastened by.
Do you know where she has hid her,
Maid July?

Yet in truth it needs must be
The flight of her is old;
Yet in truth it needs must be,
For her nest, the earth, is cold.
No more in the pool-ed Even
Wade her rosy feet,
Dawn-flakes no more plash from them
To poppies 'mid the wheat.
She has muddied the day's oozes
With her petulant feet;
Scared the clouds that floated,
As sea-birds they were,
Slow on the coerule
Lulls of the air,
Lulled on the luminous
Levels of air:
She has chidden in a pet
All her stars from her;
Now they wander loose and sigh
Through the turbid blue,
Now they wander, weep, and cry--
Yea, and I too--
'Where are you, sweet July,
Where are you?'

Who hath beheld her footprints,
Or the pathway she goes?
Tell me, wind, tell me, wheat,
Which of you knows?
Sleeps she swathed in the flushed Arctic
Night of the rose?
Or lie her limbs like Alp-glow
On the lily's snows?
Gales, that are all-visitant,
Find the runaway;
And for him who findeth her
(I do charge you say)
I will throw largesse of broom
Of this summer's mintage,
I will broach a honey-bag
Of the bee's best vintage.
Breezes, wheat, flowers sweet,
None of them knows!
How then shall we lure her back
From the way she goes?
For it were a shameful thing,
Saw we not this comer
Ere Autumn camp upon the fields
Red with rout of Summer.

When the bird quits the cage,
We set the cage outside,
With seed and with water,
And the door wide,
Haply we may win it so
Back to abide.
Hang her cage of earth out
O'er Heaven's sunward wall,
Its four gates open, winds in watch
By rein-ed cars at all;
Relume in hanging hedgerows
The rain-quenched blossom,
And roses sob their tears out
On the gale's warm heaving bosom;
Shake the lilies till their scent
Over-drip their rims;
That our runaway may see
We do know her whims:
Sleek the tumbled waters out
For her travelled limbs;
Strew and smoothe blue night thereon,
There will--O not doubt her!--
The lovely sleepy lady lie,
With all her stars about her! 



                      Francis Thompson


Francis Thompson's other poems:
  1. A Girl's Sin - In Her Eyes
  2. To A Poet Breaking Silence
  3. Gilded Gold
  4. A Carrier Song
  5. An Arab Love-Song


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