He came in the Spring when the whole world was stirred
With new life, and new beauty and power;
At his coming they drew their mantle o'er him,
Made him heir to their richness and dower.
The secret things he learned from the spring
Gave him powers he could use at his will,
Which all through the years -- from boyhood to age --
Surged like tides that never were still,
In the arms of Nature he found a repose,
When weary its voice made him whole,
The song of the bird and the sigh of the wind
Were music that strengthened his soul.
A man -- yet bound by mysterious chains
To all primitive things of the earth,
Which gave him the key and the entrance at will
To the secrets of men and their worth.
He was strangely akin to the coster and King,
To the soldier and girl at the mill,
He spoke to them all in their own native tongue
For his language was that of goodwill.
Through many dark days he invaded their gloom
With his lamps of laughter and cheer
And every sad heart forgot for a time
The demon that dwelt in their fear.
His Pen was a baton that wielded a charm
Over choirs in hamlet and hill.
We watched as he swayed it, and ever anon
We sang -- or we wept -- at his will.
The Conductor steps down and we in our turn
Are mute with deep sorrow and pain;
But we silently vow as in silence we stand
We will practise his life's sweet refrain.
The Pen is now rusted -- The Inkwell is dry,
But the score that he wrote we still play,
As we toast his memory a vision comes
For in spirit he is with us today.
First published in Philosopher's Scrap Book edited by Monty Blandford, 1951