Verse > Anthologies > > Arthur Quiller-Couch, ed. > The Oxford Book of Victorian Verse
Arthur Quiller-Couch, comp.  The Oxford Book of Victorian Verse.  1922.
Chant for Reapers
By Wilfrid Thorley (1878–1963)
WHY do you hide, O dryads! when we seek
  Your healing hands in solace?
Who shall soften like you the places rough?
Who shall hasten the harvest?
Why do you fly, O dryads! when we pray        5
  For laden boughs and blossom?
Who shall quicken like you the sapling trees?
Who shall ripen the orchards?
Bare in the wind the branches wave and break,
  The hazel nuts are hollow.        10
Who shall garner the wheat if you be gone?
Who shall sharpen his sickle?
Wine have we spilt, O dryads! on our knees
  Have made you our oblation.
Who shall save us from dearth if you be fled?        15
Who shall comfort and kindle?
Sadly we delve the furrows, string the vine
  Whose flimsy burden topples.
Downward tumble the woods if you be dumb,
Stript of honey and garland.        20
Why do you hide, O dryads! when we call,
  With pleading hands up-lifted?
Smile and bless us again that all be well;
Smile again on your children.

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