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April Fire

ISSUE:  Spring 1926

O who shall drive the robin south
When April pipes him down the sky?
Or who shall stop the ploughboy’s mouth
From whistling back his shrill reply?
Or who shall stamp the gold-green fire
Back in the sod where Spring has waked desire?

That battle morning long ago
By little Concord’s quiet stream
Was lighted by an inward glow
Ancient as earth—a cosmic dream
That, shining forth from clime to clime,
Transforms with plastic life the face of time.

The bee at dawn was first to boom
A boding of the vast event,
Where smoke of early maple-bloom
Rose like an orchard firmament
Over the new-milked cattle, coming
Along green hollows where the grouse were drumming.

And ranks of redwings, circling low
By late snowdrifts in shadowy ground,
And bluebirds, flaming through the blow
Of starry windflowers strewn around,
Flaunted in shining bars and hues
Presagings of the flag that Freedom was to choose.

So, roused upon her battle-ridge,
Quick April poured her quenchless fire
Till flints that flashed on Concord bridge
Struck forth a more than mortal ire
Against the immemorial hand
That clutched with ice her own outwintered land.

For Freedom’s will is April’s will
And the heart of man is nature’s heart,
Whose auricle and ventricle
Pulse with a sap whose surges start
The lobe-seeds of a bursting Power,
Expanding Godward to its destined flower.

Where blooms that goal?—What may it be
That forever yearns for consummation
Of its own essential harmony
In natural law or human nation,
Whereby, through mating tame with wild,
Man’s war and concord become reconciled?

Beyond time’s calm Acropolis
Looms the wild pass—Thermopylae,
Where flame the spirit band, whose bliss
In dying was to keep men free.
Out of the loins of such as these
Sprang Phidias—sprang Plato and Socrates.

So from a stubborn boulder-rock
Beside the bridge on Concord road,
Bred of that freedom-sinewed stock
Which wrenched away a tyrant’s goad,
Flowered in dream and artistry
Our village prophets of democracy.

Here mused the sweet, sequestered sage
Who guessed Rhodora’s secret being,
And one who filled the mirrored page
Of Walden pond with high foreseeing,
And one who wrought of fecund fancy
A scarlet letter with his necromancy.

Such sought and found the flowering goal
Where grandeur springs from simple duty,
Where, healed by balsams of the soul,
The battle-scar is turned to beauty,
And where, outwintering old wrong—
Young April whistles in the robin’s song.


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