Verse > Anthologies > William Wilfred Campbell, ed. > The Oxford Book of Canadian Verse
William Wilfred Campbell, comp.  The Oxford Book of Canadian Verse.  1913.
In June
By Edward William Thomson (1849–1924)
The Canadian Rossignol on Mount Royal

PRONE where maples widely spread
I watch the far blue overhead,
Where little fine-spun clouds arise
From naught to naught before my eyes;
Within the shade a pleasant rout        5
Of dallying zephyrs steal about;
Lazily as moves the day
Odours float and faint away
From roses yellow, red, and white,
That prank yon garden with delight;        10
Round which the locust blossoms swing,
And some late lilacs droop for spring.
Anon swells up a dubious breeze
Stirring the half reluctant trees,
Then, rising to a mimic gale,        15
Ruffles the massy oak to pale
Till, spent its sudden force, once more
The zephyrs come that went before;
Now silvery poplars shivering stand,
And languid lindens waver bland,        20
Hemlock traceries scarcely stir,
All the pines of summer purr;
Hovering butterflies I see,
Full of business shoots the bee,
Straight to yon valley is his flight        25
Where solemn marbles crowd so white.
Half hid in the grasses there
Red-breast thrushes jump and stare,
Sparrows flutter up like leaves
Tossed upon the wind in sheaves.        30
Curve-winged swallows slant and slide
O’er the graves that stretch so wide,
Steady crows go labouring by—
Ha! the Rossignol is nigh!
Rossignol, why will you sing        35
Though lost the lovely world of spring?
’Twas well that then your roulades rang
Of joy, despite of every pang,
But now the sweet, the bliss is gone—
  Nay, now the summer joy is on,        40
  And lo, the foliage and the bloom,
  The fuller life the bluer room,
  ’Twas this the sweet spring promised me.
O bird, and can you sing so free?
And will you sing when summer goes        45
And leaves turn brown and dies the rose?
  Oh, then how brave shall autumn dress
  The maple out with gorgeousness!
  And red-cheeked apples deck the green,
  And corn wave tall its yellow sheen.        50
But, bird, bethink you well, I pray,
Then marches winter on his way.
  Ah, winter—yes, ah, yes—but still
  Hark! sweetly chimes the summer rill,
  And joy is here and life is strong,        55
  And love still calls upon my song.
No, Rossignol, sing not that strain,
Triumphant ’spite of all the pain,—
She cannot hear you, Rossignol,
She does not pause and flush, your thrall.        60
She does not raise that slender hand
And, poised lips parted, understand
What you are telling of the years,
Her brown eyes soft with happy tears,—
She does not hear a note of all.        65
Ah, Rossignol, ah, Rossignol!
But skies are blue and flowers bloom,
And roses breathe the old perfume,
And here the murmuring of the trees
In all of lovelier mysteries;—        70
And maybe now she hears my song
Pouring the summer hills along,
Listens with joy that still to thee
Remain the summertime and me.

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