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The Fields in May

Helen Allingham (1848-1926)



Watercolour and ink

12 ½ x 10 inches

'Chris Beetles Summer Show 2024', Chris Beetles Gallery, London, June-September 2024, no 73

This watercolour illustrates a poem in a book by her husband, William Allingham, Flower Pieces and Other Poems, London: Longman, Green & Co, 1893, pages 50-51:

The Fields in May
What can better please,
When your mind is well at ease,
Than a walk among the green fields in May?
To see the verdure new,
And to hear the loud cuckoo,
While sunshine makes the whole world gay:

When the butterfly so brightly
On his journey dances lightly,
And the bee goes by with business-like hum;
When the fragrant breeze and soft
Stirs the shining clouds aloft,
And the children's hair, as laughingly they come:

When the grass is full of flowers,
And the hedge is full of bowers,
And the finch and the linnet piping clear,
Where the branches throw their shadows
On a footway through the meadows,
With a brook among the cresses winding near.

Any pair of lovers walking
On this footway in sweet talking,
Sweeter silence, often linger and delay,
For the path, not very wide,
Brings them closer, side by side,
Moving gently through the happy fields of May:

Till they rest themselves awhile
At the elm-o'ershaded stile,
When stars begin to tremble in the blue,
Just to hear a nightingale,
Near our village in the vale,
To his sweetheart singing carols fond and true:

Evening wind, and brooklet's flow,
Softly whisper as they go,
Every star throbs with tenderness above;
Tender lips are sure to meet,
Heart to heart must warmly beat,
When the earth is fall and heaven is full of love.

Oh, I would the song I sing
Might to me a sweetheart bring,
For companion through the green fields of May!
She should nestle in my heart,
And we never more should part,
While the summers and the winters roll'd away.

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