Oh, gentle one, thy birthday sun should rise Amid a chorus of the merriest birds That ever sang the stars out of the sky In a June morning. Rivulets should send A voice of gladness from their winding paths, Deep in o'erarching grass, where playful winds, Stirring the loaded stems, should shower the dew Upon the grassy water. Newly-blown Roses, by thousands, to the garden-walks Should tempt the loitering moth and diligent bee. The longest, brightest day in all the year Should be the day on which thy cheerful eyes First opened on the earth, to make thy haunts Fairer and gladder for thy kindly looks. Thus might a poet say; but I must bring A birthday offering of an humbler strain, And yet it may not please thee less. I hold That 'twas the fitting season for thy birth When March, just ready to depart, begins To soften into April. Then we have The delicatest and most welcome flowers, And yet they take least heed of bitter wind And lowering sky. The periwinkle then, In an hour's sunshine, lifts her azure blooms Beside the cottage-door; within the woods Tufts of ground-laurel, creeping underneath The leaves of the last summer, send their sweets Up to the chilly air, and, by the oak, The squirrel-cups, a graceful company, Hide in their bells, a soft aërial blue— Sweet flowers, that nestle in the humblest nooks And yet within whose smallest bud is wrapped A world of promise! Still the north wind breathes His frost, and still the sky sheds snow and sleet; Yet ever, when the sun looks forth again, The flowers smile up to him from their low seats. Well hast thou borne the bleak March day of life. Its storms and its keen winds to thee have been Most kindly tempered, and through all its gloom There has been warmth and sunshine in thy heart; The griefs of life to thee have been like snows, That light upon the fields in early spring, Making them greener. In its milder hours, The smile of this pale season, thou hast seen The glorious bloom of June, and in the note Of early bird, that comes a messenger From climes of endless verdure, thou hast heard The choir that fills the summer woods with song. Now be the hours that yet remain to thee Stormy or sunny, sympathy and love, That inextinguishably dwell within Thy heart, shall give a beauty and a light To the most desolate moments, like the glow Of a bright fireside in the wildest day; And kindly words and offices of good Shall wait upon thy steps, as thou goest on, Where God shall lead thee, till thou reach the gates Of a more genial season, and thy path Be lost to human eye among the bowers And living fountains of a brighter land. March, 1855.
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