Here you will find the Long Poem An Orchard Dance of poet Norman Rowland Gale
All work is over at the farm And men and maids are ripe for glee; Love slips among them sly and warm Or calls them to the chestnut-tree. As Colin looks askance at Jane He draws his hand across his mouth; She understands the rustic pain, And something of the tender south About her milkmaid beauty flits. Her dress of lilac print for guide Draws shepherd Colin where she sits, Who, faring to her lovely side To snatch his evening pension tries, But skimming like a bird from clutch The maid escapes his Cupid touch, And speeding down a passage flies Not fast enough to cheat his eyes. Ah, sweet-lip ways and sweet-lip days, And sweetheart captures of the waist, How swiftly still the virgin runs She's sure at last to be embraced! Now Colin fires at kiss delayed, And faster flits the red stone floor Till Fortune yields the tricky maid A captive at the pantry door! The farmer with his fifty years Is not too old to join the fun; He pulls the milkmaids' pinky ears And bids a likely stripling run To find the fiddlers for a dance: And in the cherry orchard there A tune shall mingle with romance, And love be brave in open air. The village wakens to the bliss, The crones and gaffers crawl to see The country game of step and kiss Beneath the laden cherry-tree. The chairs and benches now are set, Old John is wheedled from his pet, The cider cup with beady eyes Responds to winkings of the skies. The farmer, burly in his chair, Now claps for ev'ry fond and fair To foot it on the grassy patch While rustic violinists snatch From out those varnished birds of wood A tune to jink it in the blood. Now Jane and Colin in a trice Float sweetly round not less than thrice Before their motion draws a pair To revel with the dancing air. The thrush, that on his velvet wipes His juicy bill, protesting pipes, And, somewhat as a piccolo, Doth race the concord of the bow. A virgin yonder by the tree Rejects a mate who saucily Would press, if she might only start, Her modest homespun to his heart. Ah, sweet-lip ways and sweet-lip days, And sweetheart captures of the waist, Though like a finch the maiden flies She's sure at last to be embraced. The orchard now is in full bloom With rosy cheek and snowdrop throat; The stars invade the growing gloom, And rarelier sounds the blackbird's note. But in this dewy little park Love burns the brighter for the dark, And till he use a stricter rule Dear Cicely's cheek shall never cool! The fiddlers storm a tomboy tune, The shepherds closer clasp the girls While skirts the more desert the shoon, And rebel leap the loely curls. The farmer glows within his chair And muses on the dancing time When he and she--a matchless pair-- Were warm and nimble in their prime. God bless the man who, duller grown, Can feel the younger heaven anew By granting to his maids and men A romp by starlight in the dew! Ah, greenwood ways and greenwood days, And soft pursuings of the waist, The cheek must yellow out of praise, And bent be those who once embraced! And now they pant against the trees, And, using darkness for their plan, Girls loose the garters at their knees And mend the clumsiness of man. One virgin, thankful for the dance, About the music shyly trips-- Her Love's a fiddler, and her love Pops fruit in Paganini's lips; Or finding on the starlit tree The wife and husband cherry there, She hangs the couple at his cheek And hides the stalk with tufts of hair. The girls are at the cider-cup, And shepherds tilt the yellow base Until a giddy amber flood Runs, kissing, over Cicely's face, And Dora's upper lip doth shine With winking beads of apple-wine. The fiddlers scrape a farewell tune, The dancers dwindle in the dusk While summer puffs of easy wind Bring hints of cottage garden musk. And thus the revel dearly ends With milkmaid's palm in shepherd's hand, And lovers grow from only friends Where plum and pear and apple stand. Ah, sweet-lip ways and sweet-lip days, And sweetheart captures of the waist, How fast so-e'er the virgin flies She's sure at last to be embraced!