When the golden day is done,
Through the closing portal,
Child and garden, flower and sun,
Vanish all things mortal.
As the building shadows fall
As the rays diminish,
Under evening’s cloak they all
Roll away and vanish.
Garden darkened, daisy shut,
Child in bed, they slumber —
Glow-worm in the hallway rut,
Mice among the lumber.
In the darkness houses shine,
Parents move the candles;
Till on all the night divine
Turns the bedroom handles.
Till at last the day begins
In the east a-breaking,
In the hedges and the whins
Sleeping birds a-waking.
In the darkness shapes of things,
Houses, trees and hedges,
Clearer grow; and sparrow’s wings
Beat on window ledges.
These shall wake the yawning maid;
She the door shall open —
Finding dew on garden glade
And the morning broken.
There my garden grows again
Green and rosy painted,
As at eve behind the pane
From my eyes it fainted.
Just as it was shut away,
Toy-like, in the even,
Here I see it glow with day
Under glowing heaven.
Every path and every plot,
Every blush of roses,
Every blue forget-me-not
Where the dew reposes,
“Up!” they cry, “the day is come
On the smiling valleys:
We have beat the morning drum;
Playmate, join your allies!”
Birds all the sunny day
Flutter and quarrel
Here in the arbour-like
Tent of the laurel.
Here in the fork
The brown nest is seated;
Four little blue eggs
The mother keeps heated.
While we stand watching her
Staring like gabies,
Safe in each egg are the
Bird’s little babies.
Soon the frail eggs they shall
Chip, and upspringing
Make all the April woods
Merry with singing.
Younger than we are,
O children, and frailer,
Soon in the blue air they’ll be,
Singer and sailor.
We, so much older,
Taller and stronger,
We shall look down on the
Birdies no longer.
They shall go flying
With musical speeches
High overhead in the
Tops of the beeches.
In spite of our wisdom
And sensible talking,
We on our feet must go
Plodding and walking.
All the names I know from nurse:
Gardener’s garters, Shepherd’s purse,
Bachelor’s buttons, Lady’s smock,
And the Lady Hollyhock.
Fairy places, fairy things,
Fairy woods where the wild bee wings,
Tiny trees for tiny dames —
These must all be fairy names!
Tiny woods below whose boughs
Shady fairies weave a house;
Tiny tree-tops, rose or thyme,
Where the braver fairies climb!
Fair are grown-up people’s trees,
But the fairest woods are these;
Where, if I were not so tall,
I should live for good and all.
Great is the sun, and wide he goes
Through empty heaven with repose;
And in the blue and glowing days
More thick than rain he showers his rays.
Though closer still the blinds we pull
To keep the shady parlour cool,
Yet he will find a chink or two
To slip his golden fingers through.
The dusty attic spider-clad
He, through the keyhole, maketh glad;
And through the broken edge of tiles
Into the laddered hay-loft smiles.
Meantime his golden face around
He bares to all the garden ground,
And sheds a warm and glittering look
Among the ivy’s inmost nook.
Above the hills, along the blue,
Round the bright air with footing true,
To please the child, to paint the rose,
The gardener of the World, he goes.
When the grass was closely mown,
Walking on the lawn alone,
In the turf a hole I found,
And hid a soldier underground.
Spring and daisies came apace;
Grasses hide my hiding place;
Grasses run like a green sea
O’er the lawn up to my knee.
Under grass alone he lies,
Looking up with leaden eyes,
Scarlet coat and pointed gun,
To the stars and to the sun.
When the grass is ripe like grain,
When the scythe is stoned again,
When the lawn is shaven clear,
Then my hole shall reappear.
I shall find him, never fear,
I shall find my grenadier;
But for all that’s gone and come,
I shall find my soldier dumb.
He has lived, a little thing,
In the grassy woods of spring;
Done, if he could tell me true,
Just as I should like to do.
He has seen the starry hours
And the springing of the flowers;
And the fairy things that pass
In the forests of the grass.
In the silence he has heard
Talking bee and ladybird,
And the butterfly has flown
O’er him as he lay alone.
Not a word will he disclose,
Not a word of all he knows.
I must lay him on the shelf,
And make up the tale myself.
In the other gardens
And all up the vale,
From the autumn bonfires
See the smoke trail!
Pleasant summer over
And all the summer flowers,
The red fire blazes,
The grey smoke towers.
Sing a song of seasons!
Something bright in all!
Flowers in the summer,
Fires in the fall!
The gardener does not love to talk.
He makes me keep the gravel walk;
And when he puts his tools away,
He locks the door and takes the key.
Away behind the currant row,
Where no one else but cook may go,
Far in the plots, I see him dig,
Old and serious, brown and big.
He digs the flowers, green, red, and blue,
Nor wishes to be spoken to.
He digs the flowers and cuts the hay,
And never seems to want to play.
Silly gardener! summer goes,
And winter comes with pinching toes,
When in the garden bare and brown
You must lay your barrow down.
Well now, and while the summer stays,
To profit by these garden days
O how much wiser you would be
To play at Indian wars with me!
Dear Uncle Jim, this garden ground
That now you smoke your pipe around,
Has seen immortal actions done
And valiant battles lost and won.
Here we had best on tip-toe tread,
While I for safety march ahead,
For this is that enchanted ground
Where all who loiter slumber sound.
Here is the sea, here is the sand,
Here is simple Shepherd’s Land,
Here are the fairy hollyhocks,
And there are Ali Baba’s rocks.
But yonder, see! apart and high,
Frozen Siberia lies; where I,
With Robert Bruce and William Tell,
Was bound by an enchanter’s spell.
Last updated Monday, December 22, 2014 at 10:55