AH! swallows, is it so?
Did loving lingering summer, whose slow pace
Tarried among late blossoms, loth to go,
Gather the darkening cloud-wraps round her face
And weep herself away in last week's rain?
Can no new sunlight waken her again?
'Yes,' one pale rose a-blow
Has answered from the trellised lane;
The flickering swallows answer 'No.'

From out the dim grey sky
The arrowy swarm breaks forth and specks the air,
While, one by one, birds wheel and float and fly,
And now are gone, then suddenly are there;
Till lo, the heavens are empty of them all.
Oh, fly, fly south, from leaves that fade and fall,
From shivering flowers that die;
Free swallows, fly from winter's thrall,
Ye who can give the gloom good-bye.

But what for us who stay
To hear the winds and watch the boughs grow black,
And in the soddened mornings, day by day,
Count what lost sweets bestrew the nightly track
Of frost-foot winter trampling towards his throne?
Swallows, who have the sunlight for your own,
Fly on your sunward way;
For you has January buds new blown,
For us the snows and gloom and grey.

On, on, beyond our reach,
Swallows, with but your longing for a guide:
Let the hills rise, let the waves tear the beach,
Ye will not balk your course nor turn aside,
But find the palms and twitter in the sun.
And well for them whose eager wings have won
The longed for goal of flight;
But what of them in twilights dun
Who long, but have no wings for flight?