Oh, pleasant eventide!
Clouds on the western side
Grow grey and greyer, hiding the warm sun:
The bees and birds, their happy labours done,
Seek their close nests and bide.
Screened in the leafy wood
The stock—doves sit and brood:
The very squirrel leaps from bough to bough
But lazily; pauses; and settles now
Where once he stored his food.
One by one the flowers close,
Lily and dewy rose
Shutting their tender petals from the moon:
The grasshoppers are still; but not so soon
Are still the noisy crows.
The dormouse squats and eats
Choice little dainty bits
Beneath the spreading roots of a broad lime
Nibbling his fill he stops from time to time
And listens where he sits.
From far the lowings come
Of cattle driven home:
From farther still the wind brings fitfully
The vast continual murmur of the sea,
Now loud, now almost dumb.
The gnats whirl in the air,
The evening gnats; and there
The owl opes broad his eyes and wings to sail
For prey; the bat wakes; and the shell—less snail
Comes forth, clammy and bare.
Hark! that’s the nightingale,
Telling the selfsame tale
Her song told when this ancient earth was young:
So echoes answered when her song was sung
In the first wooded vale.
We call it love and pain
The passion of her strain;
And yet we little understand or know:
Why should it not be rather joy that so
Throbs in each throbbing vein?
In separate herds the deer
Lie; here the bucks, and here
The does, and by its mother sleeps the fawn:
Through all the hours of night until the dawn
They sleep, forgetting fear.
The hare sleeps where it lies,
With wary half—closed eyes;
The cock has ceased to crow, the hen to cluck:
Only the fox is out, some heedless duck
Or chicken to surprise.
Remote, each single star
Comes out, till there they are
All shining brightly: how the dews fall damp!
While close at hand the glow—worm lights her lamp,
Or twinkles from afar.
But evening now is done
As much as if the sun
Day—giving had arisen in the East:
For night has come; and the great calm has ceased,
The quiet sands have run.