When spring begins, the maids in flocks
Walk in soft fields, and their sheepskin locks
Fall shadowless, soft as music, round
Their jonquil eyelids and reach the ground.
Where the small fruit-buds begin to harden
Into sweet tunes in the palace garden,
They peck at the fruit-buds’ hairy herds
With their lips like the gentle bills of birds.
. . . . .
But King Midas heard the swan-bosomed sky
Say, ‘All is surface and so must die.’
And he said: ‘It is spring; I will have a feast
To woo eternity; for my least
Palace is like a berg of ice;
And the spring winds, for birds of paradise,
With the leaping goat-footed waterfalls cold,
Shall be served for me on a dish of gold;
By a maiden fair as an almond-tree,
With hair like the waterfall’s goat-locks; she
Has lips like that jangling harsh pink rain,
The flower-bells that spirit on the trees again.’
In Midas’s garden the simple flowers
Laugh, and the tulips are bright as the showers,
For spring is here; the auriculas,
And the Emily-colored primulas
Bob in their pinafores on the grass
As they watch the gardener’s daughter pass.
Then King Midas said, ‘At last I feel
Eternity conquered beneath my heel
Like the glittering snake of Paradise —
And you are my Eve!’—but the maiden flies
Like the leaping goat-footed waterfalls
Singing their cold, forlorn madrigals.