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POEM: THE CHAMPION
Young and a conqueror, once on a day,
Wild white Winter rode out this way;
With his sword of ice and his banner of snow
Vanquished the Summer and laid her low.
Winter was young then, young and strong;
Now he is old, he has reigned too long.
He shall be routed, he shall be slain;
Summer shall come to her own again!
See the champion of Summer wake
Little armies in field and brake:
"Cruel and cold has King Winter been;
Fight for the Summer, fight for the Queen!"
First the aconite dots the mould
With little round cannon-balls of gold;
Then, to help in the winter's rout,
Regiments of crocuses march out.
See the swords of the flag-leaves shine;
See the shield of the celandine,
And daffodil lances green and keen,
To fight for the Summer, fight for the Queen.
Silver triumphant the snowdrop swings
Banners that mock at defeated kings;
And wherever the green of the new grass peers,
See the array of victorious spears.
Daffodil trumpets soon shall sound
Over the garden's battle-ground,
And lovely ladies crowd out to see
The long procession of victory.
Little daisies with snowy frills,
Courtly tulips and sweet jonquils,
Primrose and cowslip, friends well met
With white wood-sorrel and violet.
Hundreds of milkmaids by field and fold;
Thousands of buttercups licked with gold;
Budding hedges and woods and trees -
Spring brings freedom and life to these.
Then the triumphant Spring shall ride
Over the happy countryside;
Deep in the woods the birds shall sing:
"The King is dead - long live the King!"
But Spring is no king, but a faithful knight;
He will ride on through the meadows bright
Till at Summer's feet he shall light him down
And lay at her feet the royal crown.
She will lean down where the roses twine
Between the may-trees' silver shine,
And look in the eyes of the dying knight
Who led his army and won her fight.
She will stoop to his lips and say,
"Oh, live, O love! O my true love, stay!"
While he smiles and sighs her arms between
And dies for the Summer, dies for the Queen.
Turn to the next chapter: POEM: THE GARDEN REFUSED