Tabb’s Poetry XIV


The master scans the woven score
Of subtle harmonies, before
   A note is stirred;
And Nature now is pondering
The tidal symphony of Spring,
   As yet unheard. 

The Snowdrop

Behold, from winter’s sleeping side,
   The sacramental power
Of Nature fashioneth a bride
   As fair as Eden’s flower. 


   Despite the north wind’s boast,
      Despite the muffled host
         Of hushing snow,
      There cometh from below
Out of the darkness wakened, one by one
      The dreamers of the sun—
      Not in the bleak array
Of winter, but with fragrant banners gay
      Leaping the barriers strong
      Of ice, and loosing song,
      The prisoner, and letting go
Long-fettered laughter, as the shadowy foe
      Shrinks from the echoing cry
      Of “life and victory!” 

New and Old

New blossoms from the selfsame earth,
   Beneath the selfsame skies;
New hope with dawn’s perennial birth,
   The selfsame heaven supplies.

Strong as the sea and silent as the grave,
   It ebbs and flows unseen;
Flooding the earth—a fragrant tidal wave—
   With mist of deepening green.

John B. Tabb



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“Anticipation”: Lyrics, p. 91; Poetry, p. 87. March 1896. The master would be a symphony conductor; the score, the printed sheet of music with all the different parts. Father Tabb was a gifted pianist.

“The Snowdrop”: Lyrics, p. 100; Poetry, p. 325. October 1892. The Snowdrop is any of a kind of perennial flower (genus Galanthus) having white blossoms, many of which bloom in late Winter or early Spring. Not indigenous to North America, some species are widely cultivated or have been naturalized outside their normal range.

“Triumph”: Poetry, p. 91. April 1905. Long-fettered means long captive in chains.

“New and Old”: Lyrics, p. 172; Poetry, p. 325. May 1896.

“Sap”: Poetry, p. 137; Poetry, p. 360. 1894.

A convert to the Catholic faith, Rev. John Banister Tabb (1845-1909) was a priest of the Diocese of Richmond, Virginia, and Professor of English at St. Charles’ College, Ellicott City, Maryland. Poems selected, arranged, and annotated by E.L. Core.
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