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Sister Songs-An Offering To Two Sisters - The Proem

Francis Thompson 1859 (City of Preston, Lancashire) – 1907 (London)

Shrewd winds and shrill--were these the speech of May?
A ragged, slag-grey sky--invested so,
Mary's spoilt nursling! wert thou wont to go?
Or THOU, Sun-god and song-god, say
Could singer pipe one tiniest linnet-lay,
While Song did turn away his face from song?
Or who could be
In spirit or in body hale for long, -
Old AEsculap's best Master!--lacking thee?
At length, then, thou art here!
On the earth's lethed ear
Thy voice of light rings out exultant, strong;
Through dreams she stirs and murmurs at that summons dear:
From its red leash my heart strains tamelessly,
For Spring leaps in the womb of the young year!
Nay, was it not brought forth before,
And we waited, to behold it,
Till the sun's hand should unfold it,
What the year's young bosom bore?
Even so; it came, nor knew we that it came,
In the sun's eclipse.
Yet the birds have plighted vows,
And from the branches pipe each other's name;
Yet the season all the boughs
Has kindled to the finger-tips, -
Mark yonder, how the long laburnum drips
Its jocund spilth of fire, its honey of wild flame!
Yea, and myself put on swift quickening,
And answer to the presence of a sudden Spring.
From cloud-zoned pinnacles of the secret spirit
Song falls precipitant in dizzying streams;
And, like a mountain-hold when war-shouts stir it,
The mind's recessed fastness casts to light
Its gleaming multitudes, that from every height
Unfurl the flaming of a thousand dreams.
Now therefore, thou who bring'st the year to birth,
Who guid'st the bare and dabbled feet of May;
Sweet stem to that rose Christ, who from the earth
Suck'st our poor prayers, conveying them to Him;
Be aidant, tender Lady, to my lay!
Of thy two maidens somewhat must I say,
Ere shadowy twilight lashes, drooping, dim
Day's dreamy eyes from us;
Ere eve has struck and furled
The beamy-textured tent transpicuous,
Of webbed coerule wrought and woven calms,
Whence has paced forth the lambent-footed sun.
And Thou disclose my flower of song upcurled,
Who from Thy fair irradiant palms
Scatterest all love and loveliness as alms;
Yea, Holy One,
Who coin'st Thyself to beauty for the world!

Then, Spring's little children, your lauds do ye upraise
To Sylvia, O Sylvia, her sweet, feat ways!
Your lovesome labours lay away,
And trick you out in holiday,
For syllabling to Sylvia;
And all you birds on branches, lave your mouths with May,
To bear with me this burthen,
For singing to Sylvia.

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Submitted on May 13, 2011

2:11 min read
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Francis Thompson

The Rt Rev Francis William Banahene Thompson was Bishop of Accra from 1983 to 1996. more…

All Francis Thompson poems | Francis Thompson Books

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