At Dawn and Dusk

Spring Dirge

Victor James Daley

A CHILD came singing through the dusty town
    A song so sweet that all men stayed to hear,
    Forgetting for a space their ancient fear
Of evil days and death and fortune’s frown.

She sang of Winter dead and Spring new-born
    In the green fields beyond the far hills’ bound;
    And how this fair Spring, coming blossom-crowned,
Would cross the city’s threshold on the morn.

And each caged bird in every house anigh,
    Even as she sang, caught up the glad refrain
    Of Love and Hope and fair days come again,
Till all who heard forgot they had to die.

And all the ghosts of buried woes were laid
    That heard the song of this sweet sorceress;
    The Past grew to a dream of old distress,
And merry were the hearts of man and maid.

So, at the first faint blush of tender dawn,
    Spring stole with noiseless steps through the gray gloom,
    And men knew only by a strange perfume
That she had softly entered and withdrawn.

But ah! the lustre of her violet eyes
    Was dimmed with tears for her sweet singing maid,
    Whose voice would sound no more in shine or shade
To charm men’s souls at set of sun or rise.

For there, with dews of dawn upon her hair,
    Like a fair flower plucked and flung away,
    Dead in the street the little maiden lay
Who gave new life to hearts nigh dead of care.

Alas! must this be still the bitter doom
    Awaiting those, the finer-souled of earth,
    Who make for men a morning song of mirth
While yet the birds are dumb amid the gloom?

They walk on thorny ways with feet unshod,
    Sing one last song, and die as that song dies.
    There is no human hand to close their eyes,
And very heavy is the hand of God.

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