On the Downs

Alfred Noyes

Wide-eyed our childhood roamed the world
Knee-deep in blowing grass,
And watched the white clouds crisply curled
Above the mountain-pass,
And lay among the purple thyme
And from its fragrance caught
Strange hints from some elusive clime
Beyond the bounds of thought.

Glimpses of fair forgotten things
Beyond the gates of birth,
Half-caught from far off ancient springs
In heaven, and half of earth;
And coloured like a fairy-tale
And whispering evermore
Half memories from the half-fenced pale
Of lives we lived before.

Here, weary of the roaring town
A-while may I return
And while the west wind roams the down
Lie still, lie still and learn:
Here are green leagues of murmuring wheat
With blue skies overhead,
And, all around, the winds are sweet
With May-bloom, white and red.

And, to and fro, the bee still hums
His low unchanging song,
And the same rustling whisper comes
As through the ages long:
Through all the thousands of the years
That same sweet rumour flows,
With dreaming skies and gleaming tears
And kisses and the rose.

Once more the children throng the lanes,
Themselves like flowers, to weave
Their garlands and their daisy-chains
And listen and believe
The tale of Once-upon-a-time,
And hear the Long-ago
And Happy-ever-after chime
Because it must be so.

And by those thousands of the years
 It is, though scarce we see,
Dazed with the rainbows of our tears,
Their steadfast unity,
It is, or life's disjointed schemes,
These stones, these ferns unfurled
With such deep care—a madman's dreams
Were wisdom to this world!

Dust into dust! Lie still and learn,
Hear how the ages sing
The solemn joy of our return
To that which makes the Spring:
Even as we came, with childhood's trust,
Wide-eyed we go, to Thee
Who holdest In Thy sacred dust
The heavenly Springs to be.