Now has come the month of roses,
Children fill their hands with posies;
All the garden plots are fair,
Honeysuckle scents the air;
Meadow-sweet beside the way
Mingles with the breath of hay,
Rosy loosestrife decks the sedges,
Purple vetch is in the hedges;
Now the butter-wort gives place
To the sundew’s jewelled grace;
Now we gather on the fell
Cotton-grass and asphodel;
Bees make music in the limes,
Harebells ring their dainty chimes,
Chimes that only can be heard
When July has hushed the bird.
Underneath the sycamore
Shepherds count their fleecy store,
Neighbours come from far and near,
Neighbour-like the flock to shear.
Here the urchin fresh from school
Helps to load the clipping-stool,
Holds the tie for legs that kick,
Hands the tarry ‘smitting’-stick.
Very grave the grey-beards seem
Tho’ the bright shears click and gleam,
And the girls with laughter soft
Toss the fleeces to the loft,
While the little children run
To and fro in ceaseless fun.
Bark of dogs is in our ears,
And beneath the magic shears
Lo! the creature dumb from fright
Turns from tawny into white.
Then, at last set free, the sheep
From the clipping stool will leap,
While the lambs with plaintive cries
Greet their mother’s new surprise,
And the dogs as wise as men
Push their charge from pen to pen.
Not alone the fellside farm
Fells the busy July’s charm;
Lo! the mowers’ fragrant yield
Floods with grey-green waves the field;
Lasses with sun-bonnets gay
Laughing toss with hands the hay,
Where the crake at evenfall
From a minished world will call;
Strong of arm as they are blythe
Giants swing the giant scythe,
While the cart built up with skill
Leaves the dale and climbs the hill,
And the wildrose in the lane
Takes large toll from loaded wain.
Fair July! a second Spring
Seems its emerald gift to bring;
Green as April, bright as May,
Shine the meads just now so grey;
And while still upon the height
All the rosy ling is bright,
Dalesmen happy in possessing
Haytide’s spoil and fleecy blessing,
Thank the month whose genial grace
Ere it pass gives breathing space.
(Poems at Home and Abroad, pp. 48-50)