The Literary Maiden

A compendium of obscure 19th century writing.

Tag: May

“The Reign of May” by James Gates Percival


Henry Ward Ranger, Spring Woods

The Reign of May
By James Gates Percival
From the United States Literary Gazette, May 1, 1825

I feel a newer life in every gale;
The winds, that fan the flowers,
And with their welcome breathings fill the sail,
Tell of serener hours—
Of hours that glide unfelt away
Beneath the sky of May.

The spirit of the gentle south-wind calls
From his blue throne of air,
And where his whispering voice in music falls,
Beauty is budding there;
The bright ones of the valley break
Their slumbers and awake.

The waving verdure rolls along the plain,
And the wide forest weaves,
To welcome back its playful mates again,
A canopy of leaves;
And from its darkening shadow floats
A gush of trembling notes.

Fairer and brighter spreads the reign of May;
The tresses of the woods,
With the light dallying of the west-wind play,
And the full-brimming floods,
As gladly to their goal they run,
Hail the returning sun.

“Spirit of May” by James Gates Percival

Spirit of May
James Gates Percival
From the United States Literary Gazette, Volume 4; May 1, 1826, pp. 109-111

Welcome, thrice welcome, Spirit of May!
Blessings be round thy airy way;
Come, with thy train of rainbow hues,
Of hovering clouds and falling dews,—
Come to our garden beds and bowers,
And cover them over with leaves and flowers.
Already the summer bird is there,
And he sings aloud to the warm, warm air;
There he carols strong and free,
And his song and his joy are all for thee.

Come, when the sparkling rivers run,
Full and bright, to the gladdening sun;
Come, when the grass and springing corn
In their newest and tenderest green are born;
When budding woods and tufted hills
Wake to the music of foaming rills,
As they rush from their fountains deep and strong,
And in calm and in sunshine roll along;
Come, when the soft and winning air
Tells us a quickening life is there.

Come to our bosoms, Spirit of May!
We would not be sad, when the earth is gay;
Wake, in the heart that is newly strung,
The love that dwells with the fair and young;
Give, to their full and speaking eyes,
Visions, that glitter like sunset skies;
Waft them with quick and favouring gales,
Filling with music their glancing sails;
Theirs be a flight o’er a summer sea,
Where nothing of cloud or storm can be.

And give us, who long have bode the storm,
To feel for a moment our spirits warm;
Let the hopes, that once were a world of light,
Look out from our sorrows serene and bright,
Like stars that come forth on the midnight air,
When the cloud has passed and the sky is fair;
Give us awhile to forget our cares,
And be light as thy own enlivening airs;
Let feelings of childhood awake like flowers,
When they open to catch the falling showers.

Come from thy palace, Spirit of May!
Where flowers ever blossom and fountains play!
Bring with thee Plenty’s brimming horn,
And the tears of evening and dews of morn;
Build thy throne in the clear, blue air,
And Earth shall be bright, and Heaven be fair,
And the winds, that rushed from the rolling cloud,
And lifted their voices and called aloud,
Shall sink to a softer and mellower tone,
Like gales from a happy island blown.

Then the sea shall glow in its darkest bed,
And life shall revisit the mountain head;
And the valley shall laugh, and the forest ring,
For Joy shall be out on his glittering wing;
And the old shall praise[*], and the young shall stare,
As they hear his voice in the sunny air;
Glad shall their hearts and their spirits be,
When they know he is sent to tell of thee,—
To tell them, the Queen of Love and May
Is now on her bright, triumphal way.

[*] Note: in Percival’s Clio, Volume III, “pause” is in place of “praise.”