Another sonnet, from my collection of those which I write on the world of nature:
What woe befell thee little sallow wort!
The wanton worms forsucked thy lifèsblood,
And spat into thy strands their banes in flood,
That shore thy shape, thy craft, besheaved and short!
Yfrotten seed ne maidens fair may sport,
Ne blades of weakling green may flite at stud,
With sinews straight ystrung that tire the cud,
As mighty strokes that sunder weak at court.
Yet stint thy dread and make thee haler cheer:
A morrow fresh thee fain doth éft abide.
As mildest Death thee shriveth clean as dove,
He slayeth spleen and pricketh wisdom dear:
Let grow thy slips of hope in harvest tide;
In spring then reap a mickle yield of love.
-Archaic word explanations-
wort = plant
forsucked = sucked dry
banes = diseases, poisons
shore = sheared (shear was originally a strong verb: shear, shore, shorn).
besheaved = with sheaves removed
yfrotten = fretted (i.e. devoured [by the worms]; originally a strong verb: fret, frote, frotten) The y- prefix was used on past participles in Middle English and early Modern English, evolving out of the Old English prefix ge-.
seed = pollen (‘seed’ in the sense of male reproductive essence)
flite = contend (modernisation of Old English flitan)
with = has a sense of ‘against’, as it did in Old English
stint = cease
haler = healthier
a morrow fresh = Cf. Anne of Green Gables ‘Tomorrow is always fresh.’
fain = gladly
eft = again
abide = await
spleen = depression, melancholy
prick = inspire
slips = shoots (of a plant)
tide = time
mickle = abundant, profuse
This poem is Copyright 2003 Percival Koehl