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SONGS OF FLOWERS.

203

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;
Yet not wrapped about with awful mystery

Like the burning stars which they beheld.

Wondrous truths, and manifold as wondrous,

God hath written in those stars above;
But not less in the bright flowerets under us

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.

LONGFELLOW.

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.

205

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,
Which let the oak that overhung the hedge

With moonlight beams of their own watery light;
And bulrushes, and reeds of such deep green
As soothed the dazzled eye with sober sheen.

PERCY BYSSHE SHELLEY.

FLOWERS.

God might have bade the earth bring forth

Enough for great and small;
The oak-tree, and the cedar-tree,

Without a flower at all.

He might have made enough, enough,

For every want of ours,
For luxury, medicine, and toil,

And yet have made no flowers.

The ore within the mountain-mine

Requireth none to grow;
Nor doth it need the lotus-flower

To make the river flow,

The clouds might give abundant rain,

The nightly dews might fall;
And the herb that keepeth life in man

Might yet have drunk them all.

Then wherefore, wherefore were they male,

All dyed with rainbow-light,
All fashioned with supremest grace,

Upspringing day and night.

Springing in valleys green and low,

And on the mountains high,
And in the silent wilderness,

Where no man passes by ?
Our outward life requires them not

Then wherefore had they birth?
To minister delight to man-

To beautify the earth;
To comfort man, to whisper hope,

Whene'er his faith is dim ;
For whoso careth for the flowers,
Will much more care for him!

MARY HOWITT.

HOLY FLOWERS.

Woe's me-how knowledge makes forlorn !
The forest and the field are shorn
Of their old growth, the holy flowers ;
Or if they spring, they are not ours.

Once musing in the woodland nook,
Each flower was as a written book,
Recalling, by memorial quaint,
The holy deed of martyred saint;
The patient faith, which, unsubdued,
Grew mightier through fire and blood.
One blossom, 'midst its leafy shade,
The virgin's purity portrayed ;
And one, with cup all crimson dyed,
Spoke of a Saviour crucified :
And rich the store of holy thought
That little forest-flower brought.
Doctrine and miracle, whate'er
We draw from books was treasured there.
Faith, in the wild wood's tangled bound,
A blessed heritage had found !
And Charity and Hope were seen
In the lone isle and deep ravine.
Then, pilgrims in the forest brown,
Slow wandering on from town to town,
Halting ’mid mosses green and dank,
Breathed each a prayer before they drank
From waters by the pathway side.
Then, duly, morn and eventide,
Before those ancient crosses grey,
Now mouldering silently away,

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Aged and young, devoutly bent,
In simple prayer, how eloquent !
For, each good gift man then possessed
Demanded blessing, and was blest.

What though in our pride's selfish mood
We hold those times as dark and rude;
Yet give we, from our wealth of mind,
Feeling more grateful or refined ?
And yield we unto Nature aught
Of loftier, or of holier thought,
Than they who gave sublimest power,
To the small spring and simple flower ?

MARY HOWITT.

Hark, hark !
The lark
At heaven's gate sings,
And Phoebus 'gins arise
His steeds to water at those springs
On chaliced flowers that lies;
And winking marbuds now begin
To ope their golden eyes :
With everything that pretty bin
My lady sweet, arise !

SHAKSPEARE

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

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