The May Fly.

The angler’s May-fly, the most short-lived in its perfect state of any of the
insect race, emerges from the water, where it passes its aurelia state, about six
in the evening, and dies about eleven at night.”
White’s Selborne.
The sun of the eve was warm and bright1
When the May-fly burst his shell,2
And he wanton’d awhile in that fair light3
O’er the river’s gentle swell ;4
And the deepening tints of the crimson sky5
Still gleam’d on the wing of the glad May-fly.6
The colours of sunset pass’d away,7
The crimson and yellow green,8
And the evening-star’s first twinkling ray9
In the waveless stream was seen ;10
Till the deep repose of the stillest night11
Was hushing about his giddy flight.12
The noon of the night is nearly come13
There’s a crescent in the sky ;—14
The silence still hears the myriad hum15
Of the insect revelry.16
The hum has ceas’d—the quiet wave17
Is now the sportive May-fly’s grave.18
Oh ! thine was a blessed lot—to spring19
In thy lustihood to air,20
And sail about, on untiring wing,21
Through a world most rich and fair,22
To drop at once in thy watery bed,23
Like a leaf that the willow branch has shed.24
And who shall say that his thread of years25
Is a life more blest than thine !26
Has his feverish dream of doubts and fears27
Such joys as those which shine28
In the constant pleasures of thy way,29
Most happy child of the happy May ?30
For thou wert born when the earth was clad31
With her robe of buds and flowers,32
And didst float about with a soul as glad33
As a bird in the sunny showers ;34
And the hour of thy death had a sweet repose,35
Like a melody, sweetest at its close.36
Nor too brief the date of thy cheerful race37
’Tis its use that measures time38
And the mighty Spirit that fills all space39
With His life and His will sublime,40
May see that the May-fly and the Man41
Each flutter out the same small span.42
And the fly that is born with the sinking sun,43
To die ere the midnight hour,44
May have deeper joy, ere his course be run,45
Than man in his pride and power ;46
And the insect’s minutes be spared the fears47
And the anxious doubts of our threescore years.48
The years and the minutes are as one49
The fly drops in his twilight mirth,50
And the man, when his long day’s work is done,51
Crawls to the self-same earth.52
Great Father of each ! may our mortal day53
Be the prelude to an endless May !54