Summer Twilight.

Ah ! what an hour of ecstasy is this !1
When all of Nature in our view is shrinking2
From the too ardent sun’s retiring kiss,3
And fast in twilight’s clasp her hand is linking.4
When from the joyous wood comes thrilling out,5
Tossed on the air—that drowsily is hearkening6
A storm of melody, a silver rout7
Of gorgeous sounds—no sombre touches darkening.8
The gay, clear tones at intervals that gush9
From blackbird’s throat, so limpid, pure, and thrilling ;10
The wild, bewitching prayer-notes of the thrush,11
Now trembling low, now high in quavers trilling.12
The tiny, rippling warble of the wren ;13
The chaffinch’s short, swiftly-tunèd gladness ;14
The muffled call of cuckoos from the glen ;15
The wood-dove’s shadowy, far-off coo of sadness.16
While ’neath the eye, to the horizon spread,17
Circled by hills, are gem-encrusted meadows18
Heapèd with seeming gold-dust, thickly shed19
By sprinkling fingers, hid by nearing shadows.20
The gallant knights that guard the western plains21
Of the sun’s kingdom, send their amber lances22
Quivering across the sky, till Night restrains23
Their pastime, and her screening wing advances.24
Swaying the solemn heads of mighty trees,25
The zephyrs round them sweep with restless sighing ;26
The timorous aspen shivers in the breeze,27
Its lack of rest a legend quaint supplying.28
It is, that chosen from all else, its wood29
In ages past to form the Cross was taken,30
That shuddering and apart it since has stood,31
With wild regret from leaf to fibre shaken.32
To the wild roses at its base, that gleam33
So wan and pale from out their dusky setting,34
It whispers: ‘ Fear not; soon again shall beam35
Your heads amid the sunlight’s golden netting.’36
Now to the north the keen and vivid sky37
Doth hold upon its lap a gleaming jewel ;38
Gnats croon their vespers, and Night hovering nigh,39
Bids labour cease till dawn demands renewal.40