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Poem by Bessie Rayner Parkes


IT is not the rose, though the rose is red,
And as full of love as a flower can be,
And the lily she bows her stately head
With a certain grace, but is not like thee!
And the purple pansy opens wide
Her clear bright eye for whoever may see,
So her velvety bloom and her jewelled pride,
They have not the look which is dear to me!

The jessamine, she is too pale and too slender,
The violet dear is too timid by far;
The summer-born sweet-pea, though clinging and tender,
Is no more like thee than the earth to a star
Of whom poets aver that the distance would lend her
That beautiful radiance we worship afar;--
But I seek for a flower whose immaculate splendour
Is changelessly true as the flame-spirits are.

The little blue flower which true lovers adore,
Which blooms by the banks of the murmuring stream,
Might daintily pave thy luxurious floor,
But it is not the flower which I saw in my dream.
Each depth of the wild wood is blossoming o'er
With delicate riches, yet ever they seem
Too fairily vagrant in nurture, the more
As I seek for a courtly repose in my theme.

This is the time when the year's in its prime,
And the rich honeysuckle is blent with the clover,
When Nature yearns for the poet's rhyme,
And the sweetbrier breaks into kisses all over;
When young fawns leap to the tender chime
Of their mother's bells, and quick eyes discover
How the rabbits run and the squirrels climb,
And we look at the earth with a smile of a lover.

But wait for a while till the summer is past,
And woods have a rumour that prophesies death--
A sombre foreshadowing borne on the blast,
Which comes in a moment and dies at a breath;--
A something, a nothing, which touches the leaves,
And haunts the hot meadows at noon like a wraith,
And crisps the broad cornfields just bare of their sheaves--
And I'll show you my blossom and say what it saith.

The flower that I love is both solemn and rare,
The deep-hearted purple it wears in disdain;
When other gay blossoms are flaunting and fair,
It spreads out its petals like triumphing pain.
Its white is for pureness, its green is for hope,
All golden its fruit in the soft chilly air;--
The dream it suggests is of infinite scope,
For the Cross and the Passion are symbolised there!

Bessie Rayner Parkes

Bessie Rayner Parkes's other poems:
  1. The Old Chateau
  2. Rome
  3. On a Group of Justice and Charity
  4. A Midsummer NightТs Dream
  5. Firelight

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