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It Is Not Always May
by
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow


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No hay pájaros en los nidos de antaño.
                                                               —Spanish proverb

    The sun is bright,—the air is clear, 
        The darting swallows soar and sing, 
    And from the stately elms I hear 
        The blue-bird prophesying Spring.

    So blue yon winding river flows, 
        It seems an outlet from the sky, 
    Where waiting till the west wind blows, 
        The freighted clouds at anchor lie.

    All things are new;—the buds, the leaves, 
        That gild the elm-tree's nodding crest, 
    And even the nest beneath the eaves;— 
        There are no birds in last year's nest!

    All things rejoice in youth and love, 
        The fulness of their first delight! 
    And learn from the soft heavens above 
        The melting tenderness of night.

    Maiden, that read'st this simple rhyme, 
        Enjoy thy youth, it will not stay; 
    Enjoy the fragrance of thy prime, 
        For O! it is not always May!

    Enjoy the Spring of Love and Youth, 
        To some good angel leave the rest; 
    For Time will teach thee soon the truth, 
        There are no birds in last year's nest!

 

This poem is in the public domain.

 

 

 

Purchase a framed print of this poem.

Most experts would agree that Henry Wadsworth Longfellow was the most popular American poet of the nineteenth century. A family man who suffered much tragedy in his personal life,  Longfellow was the first of a group of writers known as the "Fireside Poets," called such for their popularity with families all over the country who gathered by the fire in the evenings to read the work of these poets aloud. Longfellow published poetry over a forty year period, and enjoyed public adulation in line with that of rock stars and celebrities today.

 

 


Post New Comment:
Richard Greene:
You're right. The last line of the poem is a translation of the proverb. Google's translation is goofy, reminding us that we still have a way to go with artificial intelligence.
Posted 05/12/2016 09:32 PM
paradea:
Have always loved this poem!
Posted 05/11/2016 09:24 AM
Dorcas:
My younger sister died on Mother's Day 2010, and so I am glad it is not always May. Otherwise, the poem is beautiful.--
Posted 05/10/2016 02:47 PM
transitions:
barbsteff ~ I believe it is a metaphor...
Posted 05/10/2016 12:05 PM
transitions:
I look at a tender grandaughter and think 'Enjoy, my dear' it all flies by so swiftly...He put it beautifully, love the poem.
Posted 05/10/2016 12:03 PM
barbsteff:
Okay. Now I've read the poem. There are no birds in last year's nests. Clever. Not literally true. Some birds reuse nests.
Posted 05/10/2016 11:59 AM
barbsteff:
There are no birds in nests gone by, or in nests long ago. Doesn't make sense to me. Wonder where that Spanish saying came from. Must be an idiom. I'll check with my Spanish group Thursday.
Posted 05/10/2016 11:56 AM
ElizabethP:
Had not read that poem for many years. Thank you for sharing it. Perfect one for today!
Posted 05/10/2016 09:51 AM
KevinArnold:
What a marvelous poem. In a workshop, a well-known poet taught us a poetry secret: to take all "non-poetic" words out of a poem. My contrary nature loves Longfellow's use of "prophesying" here. . . The proverb seems to be one spoken by Don Quixote. . . the poem builds so that the last quatrains are just jaw-dropping.
Posted 05/10/2016 09:46 AM
Jancan:
I love everything about this poem! Thanks for sharing it. Janice
Posted 05/10/2016 09:39 AM
Newf:
Beautiful poem and so true
Posted 05/10/2016 07:53 AM
cork:
Siempre se cambian las cosas.
Posted 05/10/2016 07:41 AM


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