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THE VOICES OF SPRING.
SESTINA.

Why is it that the voices of the spring, 
The bluebird’s note, the redbreast’s mellow call, 
The sweet, sweet carols which the sparrows sing, 
The peeping of the frogs at evening’s fall, 
These vague regrets and homesick longings bring 
To hearts which listen for and love them all? 

All hearts rejoice when winter goes—and all 
Are glad to welcome back the tardy spring; 
To hear the woods responding to the call 
Which, rough and blustering, the March winds sing,—
To mark the shower’s blossom-waking fall, 
And the slight changes which the slow days bring. 

And yet, the first soft days are sure to bring 
A tender sadness with their joy, to all—
For with the new growth, buried memories spring 
As once of old at dread enchantment’s call, 
The dead arose and spake; how can we sing 
Or smile, when tears well up, and fain would fall? 

Even the lark’s voice has a mournful fall—
His lovely golden breast, that seems to bring 
The sunshine with it, and the warmth, and all 
That makes and glorifies the gracious spring, 
Is burdened with that long despairing call 
For one he seeks in vain,—how can he sing? 

We think of strains which hope was wont to sing 
In youth’s sweet Eden-land, before the fall 
Did to our souls time’s bitter wisdom bring 
And hush the angel-voices one and all; 
Yet we remember them, and every spring 
Catch far and faint the echo of their call. 

Never does summer-time or autumn call 
The same soft sadness back; the birds may sing, 
Flowers fade, and ripe October’s foliage fall, 
Yet not the same strange melancholy bring; 
It is the saddest season of them all, 
The weeping, haunted, unforgetful spring! 

Ah, lovely spring! though mating bluebirds call, 
And redbreasts sing, and sparrows song-showers fall, 
Thy soft hours bring the same sweet pain to all!
Elizabeth Akers Allen [1832-1911]