Verse > Anthologies > T. H. Ward, ed. > The English Poets > Vol. V. Browning to Rupert Brooke
Thomas Humphry Ward, ed.  The English Poets.  1880–1918.
Vol. V. Browning to Rupert Brooke
Extracts from The Search after Proserpine: Fountain Nymphs
By Aubrey Thomas de Vere (1814–1902)
        PROSERPINA was playing
          In the soft Sicilian clime,
        ’Mid a thousand damsels maying,
          All budding to their prime:
        From their regions azure-blazing        5
        The Immortal Concourse gazing
          Bent down, and sought in vain
Another earthly shape so meet with them to reign.
        The steep blue arch above her,
          In Jove’s own smiles arrayed,        10
        Shone mild, and seemed to love her:
          His steeds Apollo stayed:
        Soon as the God espied her
        Nought else he saw beside her,
          Though in that happy clime        15
A thousand maids were verging to the fulness of their prime.
        Old venerable Ocean
          Against the meads uprolled
        With ever-young emotion
          His tides of blue and gold:        20
        He had called with pomp and pæan
        From his well-beloved Ægean
          All billows to one shore,
To fawn around her footsteps and in murmurs to adore.
        Proserpina was playing
          Sicilian flowers among;
        Amid the tall flowers straying.
          Alas! she strayed too long!
        Sometimes she bent and kissed them,
        Sometimes her hands caressed them,        30
          And sometimes, one by one,
She gathered them and tenderly enclosed them in her zone.
        Lay upon your lips your fingers—
          Ceres comes, and full of woe;
        Sad she comes, and often lingers:        35
          Well that grief divine I know:
        Lay upon your lips your fingers;
        Crush not, as you run, the grass;
        Let the little bells of glass
          On the fountain blinking        40
        Burst, but ring not till she pass,
          Down in silence sinking.
        By the green scarf arching o’er her,
          By her mantle yellow-pale,
        By those blue weeds bent before her,        45
          Bent as in a gale,
        Well I know her—hush, descend—
Hither her green-tracked footsteps wend.
*        *        *        *        *
              Proserpina once more
                Will come to us a-Maying;        50
              Sicilian meadows o’er
                Low-singing and light-playing.
              The wintry durance past,
              Delight will come at last:
              Proserpina will come to us—        55
                Will come to us a-Maying.
              Sullen skies to-day,
                Sunny skies to-morrow;
              November steals from May,
                And May from her doth borrow;        60
              Griefs—Joys—in Time’s strange dance
              Interchangeably advance;
              The sweetest joys that come to us
                Come sweeter for past sorrow.

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