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A Calendar of Sonnets by Helen Hunt Jackson

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A Calendar of Sonnets

By

Helen Jackson

1886,

January

O winter! frozen pulse and heart of fire, What loss is theirs who from thy kingdom turn Dismayed, and think thy snow a sculptured urn Of death! Far sooner in midsummer tire The streams than under ice. June could not hire Her roses to forego the strength they learn In sleeping on thy breast. No fires can burn The bridges thou dost lay where men desire In vain to build. O Heart, when Love's sun goes To northward, and the sounds of singing cease, Keep warm by inner fires, and rest in peace. Sleep on content, as sleeps the patient rose. Walk boldly on the white untrodden snows, The winter is the winter's own release.

February.

Still lie the sheltering snows, undimmed and white; And reigns the winter's pregnant silence still; No sign of spring, save that the catkins fill, And willow stems grow daily red and bright. These are the days when ancients held a rite Of expiation for the old year's ill, And prayer to purify the new year's will: Fit days, ere yet the spring rains blur the sight, Ere yet the bounding blood grows hot with haste, And dreaming thoughts grow heavy with a greed The ardent summer's joy to have and taste; Fit days, to give to last year's losses heed, To reckon clear the new life's sterner need; Fit days, for Feast of Expiation placed!

March

Month which the warring ancients strangely styled The month of war,--as if in their fierce ways Were any month of peace!--in thy rough days I find no war in Nature, though the wild Winds clash and clang, and broken boughs are piled At feet of writhing trees. The violets raise Their heads without affright, without amaze, And sleep through all the din, as sleeps a child. And he who watches well may well discern Sweet expectation in each living thing. Like pregnant mother the sweet earth doth yearn; In secret joy makes ready for the spring; And hidden, sacred, in her breast doth bear Annunciation lilies for the year.

April

No days such honored days as these! When yet Fair Aphrodite reigned, men seeking wide For some fair thing which should forever bide On earth, her beauteous memory to set In fitting frame that no age could forget, Her name in lovely April's name did hide, And leave it there, eternally allied To all the fairest flowers Spring did beget. And when fair Aphrodite passed from earth, Her shrines forgotten and her feasts of mirth, A holier symbol still in seal and sign, Sweet April took, of kingdom most divine, When Christ ascended, in the time of birth Of spring anemones, in Palestine.


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