Thursday 31 January 2019

The Ways Are Green by William Henley

In my recent post about Ethel Turner's In the Mist of the Mountains, her epigraph, dedicated to her husband, was the final two lines from a William Henley poem.

It was a poem (and a poet) I didn't know, but after reading the poem in full, I can see why Turner chose it for this particular book about late spring in the Blue Mountains. Not only was Turner, herself, a keen gardener, but her love for nature was realistic rather than romantic in nature, as was Henley's.

From this one small peak into the romantic life of the Turner's I cannot help but think that they shared a happy, loving marriage.

The Ways Are Green
William Ernest Henley
(1849 - 1903)

The ways are green with the gladdening sheen
Of the young year's fairest daughter.
O, the shadows that fleet o'er the springing wheat!
O, the magic of running water!
The spirit of spring is in every thing,
The banners of spring are streaming,
We march to a tune from the fifes of June,
And life's a dream worth dreaming.

It's all very well to sit and spell
At the lesson there's no gainsaying;
But what the deuce are wont and use
When the whole mad world's a-maying?
When the meadow glows, and the orchard snows,
And the air's with love-motes teeming,
When fancies break, and the senses wake,
O, life's a dream worth dreaming!

What Nature has writ with her lusty wit
Is worded so wisely and kindly
That whoever has dipped in her manuscript
Must up and follow her blindly.
Now the summer prime is her blithest rhyme
In the being and the seeming,
And they that have heard the overword
Know life's a dream worth dreaming.


Jennifer @Holds Upon Happiness posts a lovely Poem for a Thursday each week. I love seeing which poem she picks but I rarely feel the urge to join in with one myself. However, today is one of those days when my recent reading provided the push I needed.


  1. This whole poem has an exultant, spring-mad feel to it, doesn't it? As if the poem, as well as spring, is bursting out everywhere.

    1. Exultant! That's the word I was looking for. I had toyed with heady and joyous, but they didn't quite nail the feeling.


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