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SONGS OF FLOWERS.
Spake full well, in language quaint and olden,
One who dwelleth by the castled Rhine, When he called the flowers, so blue and golden,
Stars, that in earth's firmament do shine.
Stars they are, wherein we read our history,
As astrologers and seers of eld;
Like the burning stars which they beheld.
Wondrous truths, and manifold as wondrous,
God hath written in those stars above;
Stands the revelation of his love.
Bright and glorious is that revelation
Written all over this great world of ours ; Making evident our own creation,
In these stars of earth, these golden flowers.
And the poet, faithful and far-seeing,
Sees alike in stars and flowers, a part Of the self-same, universal being,
Which is throbbing in his brain and heart.
Gorgeous flowerets in the sunlight shining,
Blossoms flaunting in the eye of day, Tremulous leaves, with soft and silver lining,
Buds which open only to decay;
Brilliant hopes, all woven in gorgeous tissues,
Flaunting gaily in the golden light, Large desires, with most uncertain issues,
Tender wishes, blossoming at night!
Theses in flowers and men are more than seeming;
Workings are they of the selfsame powers, Which the poet in no idle dreaming,
Seeth in himself and in the flowers.
Everywhere about us are they glowing,
Some like stars, to tell us spring is born; Others, their blue eyes with tears o'erflowing,
Stand like Ruth amid the golden coru;
Not alone in Spring's armorial bearings,
And in Summer's green-emblazoned field, But in arms of brave old Autumn's wearing,
In the centre of his brazen shield ; Not alone in meadows and green alleys,
On the mountain-top and by the brink Of sequestered pools in woodland valleys,
Where the slave of Nature stoops to drink. Not alone in her vast dome of glory,
Not on graves of birds and beasts alone, But in old cathedrals, high and hoary,
On the tombs of heroes, carved in stone; In the cottage of the rudest peasant,
In ancestral homes, whose crumbling towers, Speaking of the Past unto the Present,
Tell us of the ancient Games of Flowers. In all places, then, and in all seasons,
Flowers expand their light and soul-like wings, Teaching us, by most persuasive reasons,
How akin they are to human things. And with childlike credulous affection,
We behold their tender buds expand; Emblems of our own great resurrection, Emblems of the bright and better land.
A DREAM OF MAY FLOWERS.
I dreamed that, as I wandered by the way,
Bare winter suddenly was changed to spring, And gentle odours led my steps astray,
Mixed with a sound of waters murmuring Along a shelving bank of turf, which lay
Under a copse, and hardly dared to fling Its green arms round the bosom of the stream, But kissed it and then fled, as thou mightest in a dream. There grew pied wind-flowers and violets,
Daisies, those pearled Arcturi of the earth, The constellated flower that never sets ;
Faint oxlips ; tender bluebells, at whose birth The sod scarce heaved; and that tall flower that wets
Its mother's face with heaven-collected tears, When the low wind its playmate's voice it hears.
SONGS OF FLOWERS.
And in the warm hedge grew lush eglantine,
Green cow-bind, and the moonlight-coloured May, And cherry-blossoms, and white-cups, whose wine
Was the bright dew yet drained not by the day; And wild rose, and ivy serpentine,
With its dark buds and leaves, wandering astray; And flowers azure, black and streaked with gold, Fairer than any wakened eyes behold.
And nearer to the river's trembling edge
There grew broad flag-flowers, purple, prankt with white, And starry river-buds among the sedge;
And floating water-lilies, broad and bright,
With moonlight beams of their own watery light;
PERCY BYSSHE SHELLEY.
God might have bade the earth bring forth
Enough for great and small;
Without a flower at all.
He might have made enough, enough,
For every want of ours,
And yet have made no flowers.
The ore within the mountain-mine
Requireth none to grow;
To make the river flow,
The clouds might give abundant rain,
The nightly dews might fall;
Might yet have drunk them all.
Then wherefore, wherefore were they male,
All dyed with rainbow-light,
Upspringing day and night.
Springing in valleys green and low,
And on the mountains high,
Where no man passes by ?
Then wherefore had they birth?
To beautify the earth;
Whene'er his faith is dim ;
Woe's me-how knowledge makes forlorn !
Once musing in the woodland nook,
Aged and young, devoutly bent,
What though in our pride's selfish mood
Hark, hark !
First, the lark, when she means to rejoice to cheer herself and those that hear her, she then quits the earth, and sings as she ascends higher into the air; and having ended her heavenly employment, grows then mute and sad to think she must descend to the dull earth, which she would not touch but for necessity.
How do the blackbird and throssel, with their melodious voice, bid welcome to the cheerful spring, and in their fixed mouths warble forth such ditties as no art or instrument can reach to!
Nay, the smaller birds also do the like in their particular seasons, as, namely, the laverock, the tit-lark, the little linnet, and the honest robin, who loves mankind both alive and dead.
But the nightingale, another of my airy creatures, breathes such sweet loud music out of her little instrumental throat, that it might make mankind to think