by Humbert Wolfe (1885 - 1940)

The floral bandit
Language: English 
Beyond the town - oh far! beyond it
  she walks - that lady - have you seen her?
that thief of spring, that floral bandit
  who leaves the grass she walks on greener.

And she can sing - the blackbirds hear her -
  those little coals with throats of flame -
and they can find, alighting near her,
  no sweeter practice than her name.

What is her name? O ask the linnet,
  for human tongue would strive in vain
to speak the buds uncrumpling in it,
  and the small language of the rain.

Who is this lady? What is she?
  the Sylvia all our swains adore?
Yes, she is that unchangingly,
  but she is also something more.

For buds at best are little green
  keys on an old thin clavichord, 
that only has the one high tune -
  that, since the first, all springs have heard.

And all first love with the same sighing
  tunes, though more sweetly touched, has lingered,
as though he were forever trying
  toccatas Purcell might have fingered.

But no one knows her range nor can
  guess half the phrases of her fiddle,
the lady who fore ev'ry man 
  breaks off her music in the middle.


Musical settings (art songs, Lieder, mélodies, (etc.), choral pieces, and other vocal works set to this text), listed by composer (not necessarily exhaustive)

Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

This text was added to the website between May 1995 and September 2003.
Line count: 28
Word count: 200