[Carry Akroyd’s linocut illustrating May from “The Shepherd’s Calendar 2007” published by Carcanet Publications]

When the dark ivy the thorn-tree is mounting,
Sweet shielding in summer the nest of the dove,
There lies the sweet spot, by the side of the fountain,
That's dear to all sweetness that dwells upon love:
For there setting sunbeams, ere even's clouds close 'em,
Once stretch'd a long shadow of one I adore;
And there did I meet the sweet sighs of the bosom
Of one ever dear, though I meet her no more.

And who with a soul, and a share of warm feeling,
And who with a heart that owns love for the fair,
Can pass by the spot where his first look was stealing,
Or first fondness ventur'd love-tales to declare?
Ah, who can pass by it, and notice it never?
Can long days forget on first fondness to call?
Sure time kindles love to burn brighter than ever,
And nature's first choice must be sweetest of all.

I prove it, sweet Mary, I prove it too truly;
That fountain, once sweeten'd with presence of thee,
As oft as I pass it at eve, and as duly
As May brings the time round, I think upon thee:
I go and I sit on the soft bed of rushes,
As nigh as remembrance the spot can decide;
There lonely I whisper, in sorrow's warm gushes,
That bliss when my Mary was plac'd by my side.

It grieves me to see the first open May-blossom;
For, Mary, if still 'tis remember'd by thee,
'Twas just then thou wish'd one to place in thy bosom,
When scarce a peep show'd itself open to me.
Each May with a tear are that flower and I parted,
As near that lov'd spot it first peeps on the bower;
"I've no cause to pluck thee," I sigh broken-hearted,
"There's no Mary nigh to be pleas'd with the flower."

Little Trotty Wagtail

Little trotty wagtail he went in the rain,
And twittering, tottering sideways he ne'er got straight again.
He stooped to get a worm, and looked up to get a fly,
And then he flew away ere his feathers they were dry.

Little trotty wagtail he waddled in the mud,
And left his little footmarks, trample where he would.
He waddled in the water-pudge, and waggle went his tail,
And chirrupt up his wings to dry upon the garden rail.

Little trotty wagtail, you nimble all about,
And in the dimpling water-pudge you waddle in and out;
Your home is nigh at hand, and in the warm pig-stye,
So, little Master Wagtail, I'll bid you a good bye.


In the meadow's silk grasses we see the black snail,
Creeping out at the close of the eve, sipping dew,
While even's one star glitters over the vale,
Like a lamp hung outside of that temple of blue.
I walk with my true love adown the green vale,
The light feathered grasses keep tapping her shoe;
In the whitethorn the nightingale sings her sweet tale,
And the blades of the grasses are sprinkled with dew.

If she stumbles I catch her and cling to her neck,
As the meadow-sweet kisses the blush of the rose:
Her whisper none hears, and the kisses I take
The mild voice of even will never disclose.
Her hair hung in ringlets adown her sweet cheek,
That blushed like the rose in the hedge hung with dew;
Her whisper was fragrance, her face was so meek--
The dove was the type on't that from the bush flew.


'Tis evening; the black snail has got on his track,
And gone to its nest is the wren,
And the packman snail, too, with his home on his back,
Clings to the bowed bents like a wen.
The shepherd has made a rude mark with his foot
Where his shadow reached when he first came,
And it just touched the tree where his secret love cut
Two letters that stand for love's name.
The evening comes in with the wishes of love,
And the shepherd he looks on the flowers,
And thinks who would praise the soft song of the dove,
And meet joy in these dew-falling hours.
For Nature is love, and finds haunts for true love,
Where nothing can hear or intrude;
It hides from the eagle and joins with the dove,
In beautiful green solitude.

Spring Flowers

Bowing adorers of the gale,
Ye cowslips delicately pale,
Upraise your loaded stems;
Unfold your cups in splendour; speak!
Who decked you with that ruddy streak
And gilt your golden gems?

Violets, sweet tenants of the shade,
In purple's richest pride arrayed,
Your errand here fulfil;
Go, bid the artist's simple stain
Your lustre imitate--in vain--
And match your Maker's skill.

Daisies, ye flowers of lowly birth,
Embroiderers of the carpet earth,
That stud the velvet sod,
Open to Spring's refreshing air,
In sweetest smiling bloom declare
Your Maker and your God.


I left the little birds
And sweet lowing of the herds,
And couldn't find out words,
Do you see,
To say to them good-bye,
Where the yellowcups do lie;
So heaving a deep sigh,
Took to sea....

From 'A Rhapsody'

[Carry Akroyd’s linocut illustrating April from “The Shepherd’s Calendar 2007” published by Carcanet Publications]

Sweet solitude, what joy to be alone--
In wild, wood-shady dell to stay for hours.
Twould soften hearts if they were hard as stone
To see glad butterflies and smiling flowers.
Tis pleasant in these quiet lonely places,
Where not the voice of man our pleasure mars,
To see the little bees with coal black faces
Gathering sweets from little flowers like stars.

The wind seems calling, though not understood.
A voice is speaking; hark, it louder calls.
It echoes in the far-outstretching wood.
First twas a hum, but now it loudly squalls;
And then the pattering rain begins to fall,
And it is hushed--the fern leaves scarcely shake,
The tottergrass it scarcely stirs at all.
And then the rolling thunder gets awake,
And from black clouds the lightning flashes break.

The sunshine's gone, and now an April evening
Commences with a dim and mackerel sky.
Gold light and woolpacks in the west are leaving,
And leaden streaks their splendid place supply.
Sheep ointment seems to daub the dead-hued sky,
And night shuts up the lightsomeness of day,
All dark and absent as a corpse's eye.
Flower, tree, and bush, like all the shadows grey,
In leaden hues of desolation fade away.

Tis May; and yet the March flower Dandelion
Is still in bloom among the emerald grass,
Shining like guineas with the sun's warm eye on--
We almost think they are gold as we pass,
Or fallen stars in a green sea of grass.
They shine in fields, or waste grounds near the town.
They closed like painter's brush when even was.
At length they turn to nothing else but down,
While the rude winds blow off each shadowy crown.