Harebells

The bells are ringing and ringing,
Little low bells on the earth;
Sweet as a woodlark’s wild singing,
Little clear laughter and mirth.
The sunshine breaks, and all around
A steak of sky runs over the ground,
Where the poor man’s way is open still,
The bells of England on heath and hill

Lie and rest on the dry turf here,
A soft, soft flutter comes rustling near;
One eye-level of dazzling blue
Dances and streams the wind’s way through!
Slumber steals through the nodding band.
So, for an hour, dost thou dream, and say,
“I shall have my heart’s desire to-day;”
Then rise and go, thou hast thy way;
These are the bells of Fairy Land.

The statelier flowers may keeps their pride,
We fear no footsteps, we do not hide;
On trodden turf of the waste roadside
We are blown and beaten in breaths of blue,
The wings of the gnat are not so thin;

But we smile in singing the wild days through
We are here for any who care to win.
Close by is the city’s smoke and din;
Even its children can walk so far,
The poor, the sick, may reach where we are.
We too are lowly, we too are frail,
Therefore we too outlast and prevail.

Here, high up on the open hill,
The air of autumn is rude and chill:
The great star-thistle, the tormentil,
Purple and gold on the bare hillside,
Cling to the earth with arms clasped wide,
As though they might never else abide;
But the wind that sweeps the down on high
Scatters our light as it passes by,
Shakes out our peals of melody:
These are the bells of Eventide.

The gold and the white open the year,
The iris and rose are no longer here;
The green of the woods is turning sere,
The lily has bowed, it could not stand.
But the year’s last flowers are tender and blue,
The flowers that are faithful when flowers are few,
We guard the path till the harvest is through:
These are the bells of Holy Land.

Finest and frailest of the all the flowers,
We are left alone in the autumn hours,
The bear the brunt of the storms and showers;
The skies above us are grey and sad:
But the hue of heaven to earth we bring,
But the heart of heaven in our bells we ring.
Low, low, low—are you listening?
The heart of heaven is gay and glad.

Come away, come away, come away!
The eyes of the angels are blue and grey.
There is one coming down the crowded street,
He is passing out, he is coming this way,
Here, up here, where the winds are at play;

At the turn of the road you cannot but meet,
You will know his face, you will understand,
He need not speak, he will reach his hand,
–O, the surprise, too sweet to say!
The bells re ringing in angel Land.

One to go, and many to stay:
Each his turn—you have come this way
Why are we dancing here so gay?
Why has the music just begun?
Like a peal of church-bells down they run,
Down, down, down, from a height away,
Thousands on thousands, one by one,
Each a spirit—off and away!
Do you not know, do you not see,
Blue as the breadths of the sky and sea,
The light of love, of eternity?
The bells are ringing in Heaven to-day!

Source: Atalanta 1.2 (November 1887): 58-60. Print.

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