Bayard Taylor image

Bayard Taylor

Jan. 11, 1825 - Dec 19, 1878


The Lost May

by Bayard Taylor

When May, with cowslip-braided locks,
Walks through the land in green attire,
And burns in meadow-grass the phlox
His torch of purple fire:

When buds have burst the silver sheath,
And shifting pink, and gray, and gold
Steal o'er the woods, while fair beneath
The bloomy vales unfold:

When, emerald-bright, the hemlock stands
New-feathered, needled new the pine;
And, exiles from the orient lands,
The turbaned tulips shine:

When wild azaleas deck the knoll,
And cinque-foil stars the fields of home,
And winds, that take the white-weed, roll
The meadows into foam:

Then from the jubilee I turn
To other Mays that I have seen,
Where more resplendent blossoms burn,
And statelier woods are green; --

Mays, when my heart expanded first,
A honeyed blossom, fresh with dew;
And one sweet wind of heaven dispersed
The only clouds I knew.

For she, whose softly-murmured name
The music of the month expressed,
Walked by my side, in holy shame
Of girlish love confessed.

The budding chestnuts overhead,
Their sprinkled shadows in the lane, --
Blue flowers along the brooklet's bed, --
I see them all again!

The old, old tale of girl and boy,
Repeated ever, never old:
To each in turn the gates of joy,
The gates of heaven unfold.

And when the punctual May arrives,
With cowslip-garland on her brow,
We know what once she gave our lives,
And cannot give us now!


The Poet's Journal
Copyright 1863
Ticknor and Fields, Boston