Nothing is so beautiful as spring –
When weeds, in wheels, shoot long and lovely and lush;
Thrush’s eggs look little low heavens, and thrush
Through the echoing timber does so rinse and wring
The ear, it strikes like lightnings to hear him sing;
The glassy peartree leaves and blooms, they brush
The descending blue; that blue is all in a rush
With richness; the racing lambs too have fair their fling.

What is all this juice and all this joy?
A strain of the earth’s sweet being in the beginning
In Eden garden. – Have, get, before it cloy,

Before it cloud, Christ, lord, and sour with sinning,
Innocent mind and Mayday in girl and boy,
Most, O maid’s child, thy choice and worthy the winning.


This sonnet is a prayer to God in which the speaker marvels at the innocence and overwhelming beauty of Spring. Birdsong and blossoms–and even weeds–remind him of the innocence and beauty of Eden such that he wonders aloud, “What is all this juice and all this joy?”
But reflecting on this beauty and innocence also reminds the speaker that these things–like Eden–do not last. Even the little girls and boys, all full of happiness and ‘Mayday,’ are destined to revolt and be ruined; all the beauty will ‘cloud and sour with sinning.’ And so his emotional and incomplete request, “have, get…” The speaker prays that God–Christ, lord, the maid’s child (the child of Mary)– would somehow intervene, to preserve or restore the beauty and innocence of the world. Such a choice by God would be “worthy the winning.”