Once a Week (magazine)/Series 1/Volume 9/An autumn birthday

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2296914Once a Week, Series 1, Volume IX — An autumn birthday
1863Manley Hopkins


Not beautiful,—but in thine eyes
Such depth of tranquil light there lies,
That when thy gaze is turn’d to mine,
It seems less human than divine.

No longer young;—the soberer years,
And Time, who decks his flowers with tears,
Have taken less than they have given,—
And earth looks pale the nearer Heaven.

Thine is the soft autumnal day
Of russet wood and welkin grey:
The quiet fulness that hath ta’en
The place of summer’s mirth and pain.

What birthday gift is fitly brought,
That Nature yields or Art hath wrought?—
A woven crown of ripening wheat,
And sprays of scentful meadow-sweet.

The berried holly’s leaf of thorn,
I think thou wilt not dread or scorn;
For thou hast learn’d the lesson rare
Of patience,—both to do, and bear.

Encircled thou, in twofold light
From both the worlds thou hast in sight:
Like Cortes, blessing on his knees
His God, as he two oceans sees.

Not mine, as yet, to know thy calm;
Not mine to raise thy peaceful psalm;
But I may love thee, and not less
For thy more perfect happiness.

So, sitting the ripe shocks beneath,
I crown thee with an Autumn Wreath;
And hail thy birthdays as they flow:—
Our hearts were one, long, long ago!