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Midsummer Days And Midsummer Nights
by [?]

And it’s oh for my Dear and the charm that stays–
Midsummer days! Midsummer days!
And it’s oh for my Love and the dark that plights–
Midsummer nights! O Midsummer nights!

There is a burst for you! And we will let the poets of spring, with their lambkins and their catkins and the rest, match this poem of William Henley’s if they can. The royal months are ours, and we love the reign of the rose.

When the burnished tints of bronze shine on the brackens, and the night-wind blows with a chilly moan from the fields of darkness, we shall have precious days to remember, and, ah, when the nights are long, and the churlish Winter lays his fell finger on stream and grass and tree, we shall be haunted by jolly memories! Will the memories be wholly pleasant? Perchance, when the curtains are drawn and the lamp burns softly, we may read of bright and beautiful things. Out of doors the war of the winter fills the roaring darkness. It may be that

Hoarsely across the iron ground
The icy wind goes roaring past,
The powdery wreaths go whirling round
Dancing a measure to the blast.

The hideous sky droops darkly down
In brooding swathes of misty gloom,
And seems to wrap the fated town
In shadows of remorseless doom.

Then some of us may find a magic phrase of Keats’s, or Thomas Hardy’s, or Black’s, or Dickens’s, that recalls the lovely past from the dead. Many times I have had that experience. Once, after spending the long and glorious summer amid the weird subdued beauty of a wide heath, I returned to the great city. It had been a pleasant sojourn, though I had had no company save a collie and one or two terriers. At evening the dogs liked their ramble, and we all loved to stay out until the pouring light of the moon shone on billowy mists and heath-clad knolls. The faint rustling of the heath grew to a wide murmur, the little bells seemed to chime with notes heard only by the innermost spirit, and the gliding dogs were like strange creatures from some shadowy underworld. At times a pheasant would rise and whirl like a rocket from hillock to hollow, and about midnight a rapturous concert began. On one line of trees a colony of nightingales had established themselves near the heart of the waste. First came the low inquiry from the leader; then two or three low twittering answers; then the one long note that lays hold of the nerves and makes the whole being quiver; and then–ah, the passion, the pain, the unutterable delight of the heavenly jargoning when the whole of the little choir begin their magnificent rivalry! The thought of death is gone, the wild and poignant issues of life are softened, and the pulses beat thickly amid the blinding sweetness of the music. He who has not heard the nightingale has not lived. Far off the sea called low through the mist, and the long path of the moon ran toward the bright horizon; the ships stole in shadow and shine over the glossy ripples, and swung away to north and south till they faded in wreaths of delicate darkness. Dominating the whole scene of beauty, there was the vast and subtle mystery of the heath that awed the soul even when the rapture was at its keenest. Time passed away, and on one savage night I read Thomas Hardy’s unparalleled description of the majestic waste in “The Return of the Native.” That superb piece of English is above praise–indeed praise, as applied to it, is half an impertinence; it is great as Shakespeare, great almost as Nature–one of the finest poems in our language. As I read with awe the quiet inevitable sentences, the vision of my own heath rose, and the memory filled me with a sudden joy.