THE FROGS - Charles Lamb Poems


Poems » charles lamb » the frogs


Breathers of wisdom won without a quest,
    Quaint uncouth dreamers, voices high and strange;
Flutists of lands where beauty hath no change,
    And wintry grief is a forgotten guest,
Sweet murmurers of everlasting rest,
    For whom glad days have ever yet to run,
    And moments are as aeons, and the sun
But ever sunken half-way toward the west.

Often to me who heard you in your day,
    With close rapt ears, it could not choose but seem
That earth, our mother, searching in what way
    Men's hearts might know her spirit's inmost-dream;
        Ever at rest beneath life's change and stir,
        Made you her soul, and bade you pipe for her.

In those mute days when spring was in her glee,
    And hope was strong, we knew not why or how,
    And earth, the mother, dreamed with brooding brow,
Musing on life, and what the hours might be,
When love should ripen to maternity,
    Then like high flutes in silvery interchange
    Ye piped with voices still and sweet and strange,
And ever as ye piped, on every tree

The great buds swelled; among the pensive woods
    The spirits of first flowers awoke and flung
From buried faces the close-fitting hoods,
    And listened to your piping till they fell,
The frail spring-beauty with her perfumed bell,
The wind-flower, and the spotted adder-tongue.

All the day long, wherever pools might be
      Among the golden meadows, where the air
      Stood in a dream, as it were moorèd there
For ever in a noon-tide reverie,
Or where the birds made riot of their glee
          In the still woods, and the hot sun shone down,
          Crossed with warm lucent shadows on the brown
Leaf-paven pools, that bubbled dreamily,

Or far away in whispering river meads
    And watery marshes where the brooding noon,
Full with the wonder of its own sweet boon,
    Nestled and slept among the noiseless reeds,
        Ye sat and murmured, motionless as they,
        With eyes that dreamed beyond the night and day.

And when day passed and over heaven's height,
    Thin with the many stars and cool with dew,
    The fingers of the deep hours slowly drew
The wonder of the ever-healing night,
No grief or loneliness or rapt delight
    Or weight of silence ever brought to you
    Slumber or rest; only your voices grew
More high and solemn; slowly with hushed flight

Ye saw the echoing hours go by, long-drawn,
    Nor ever stirred, watching with fathomless eyes,
And with your countless clear antiphonies
    Filling the earth and heaven, even till dawn,
        Last-risen, found you with its first pale gleam,
        Still with soft throats unaltered in your dream.

And slowly as we heard you, day by day,
    The stillness of enchanted reveries
    Bound brain and spirit and half-closèd eyes,
In some divine sweet wonder-dream astray;
To us no sorrow or upreared dismay
    Nor any discord came, but evermore
    The voices of mankind, the outer roar,
Grew strange and murmurous, faint and far away.

Morning and noon and midnight exquisitely,
    Rapt with your voices, this alone we knew,
Cities might change and fall, and men might die,
    Secure were we, content to dream with you
        That change and pain are shadows faint and fleet,
        And dreams are real, and life is only sweet.