The Two Archers


At break of bright May-morning,
   When, triumphing o’er dark,
   The sun’s inspired lark,
All sprites and spectres scorning,
And laughing at all creatures’ joys
Who could not hang, and dive, and poise
In their own web and flood of noise,
   Dropped, out of his heart’s treasure,
      The sunbeam’s path along,
      Sparks and dews of song,
   As if there were no pleasure
      But to rise and sing and fly,
      Winged and all soul, into the sky:


   At break of this May-morning,
      A maiden young and coy
      Saw a wild archer boy
   Flying around and scorning,
Birdlike, a withered bowman’s arts,
Who aimed, as he, at roses’ hearts.
Each cried “come buy my darts,
   They are with magic laden
      To deify the blood;
      An angel in the bud,
   Half-closed, is a maiden,
      Till, opened by such wound, she fly,
      Winged and all soul into the sky.”


“You archers of May-morning,”
   Said she, “if I must choose,
   Such joy is to peruse,
In the star-light adorning,
The urchin’s eye, that my desire
Is for his darts, whose breath fans higher
The smitten roses like a fire.”
   So Love,—’twas he,—shot smiling
      His shaft, then flew away;
      Alas! that morn of May!
   Love fled, there’s no beguiling
      Repentance, but by hopes to fly,
      Winged and all soul, into the sky.


So one December morning,
   When the bold lark no more
   Rebuked the ghosts so sore,
When dews were not adorning
Ought but that maiden’s cheek, where wide
The blushes spread their leaves, to hide
The broken heart which such supplied;—
   She sought the pair of May-day,
      And to the old one saith,
      “Let thy dart, stedfast Death,
   Cure a forsaken lady;
      Its point is but for those who’d fly,
      Winged and all soul, into the sky.”

[Kelsall, 1851]