147

VERSES TO OUR OWN FLOWERY KIRTLED
SPRING.


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WELCOME, sweet time of buds and bloom, renewing
The earliest objects of delight, and wooing
The notice of the grateful heart! for then
Long-hidden, beauteous friends are seen again;
From the cleft soil, like babes from cradle peeping,
At the glad light, where soundly they've been sleeping;
Like chickens in their downy coats, just freeing
From the chipp'd shell, their new-found active being;
Like spotted butterfly, its wings up-rearing,
Half from the bursting chrysalis appearing.
Sweet season, so bedight, so gay, so kind,
Right welcome to the sight and to the mind!

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Now many a "thing that pretty is" delays
The wanderer's steps beneath the sun's soft rays.
Gay daffodils, bent o'er the watery gleam,
Doubling their flickered image in the stream;
The woody nook where bells of brighter blue
Have clothed the ground in heaven's etherial hue;
The lane's high sloping bank, where pale primrose
With hundreds of its gentle kindred blows;
And speckled daisies that on uplands bare
Their round eyes opening, scatter gladness there.
Man looks on nature with a grateful smile,
And thinks of Nature's bounteous Lord the while.

Now urchins range the brake in joyous bands,
With new-called nosegays in their dimpled hands.
The cottage maid her household task-work cheats
In mead or glen to pick the choicest sweets,
With skilful care preserved for Sunday morn,
Her bosom's simple kerchief to adorn.
And even the beldame, as with sober tread,
She takes her sunning in the grassy mead,

149

Stoops down with eager look and finds, well pleased,
Such herbs, as in a chest or bible squeezed,
In former days were deemed, by folks of sense,
A fragrant wholesome virtue to dispense,
And oft on raftered roof, in bunches strung,
With other winter stores were duly hung.

But not alone in simple scenes like these,
Thy beauteous offspring our soothed senses please;
I' the city's busy streets, by rich men's doors,
On whose white steps the flower-girl sets her stores,
In wicker basket grouped to lure the sight,
They stop and tempt full many a wistful wight.
Flowers though they be by artful culture bred,
Upon the suburb-seedsman's crowded bed,
By fetid manure cherished, gorgeous, bright,
Like civic madams dressed for festive night,—
Anemonies of crimson, purple, yellow,
And tulips streaked with colours rich and mellow,
Brown wallflowers and jonquils of golden glare,
In dapper posies tied like shop-man's ware,

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Yet still they whisper something to the heart,
Which feelings kind and gentle thoughts impart.

Gay sight! that oft a touch of pleasure gives
Even to the saddest, rudest soul that lives—
Gay sight! the passing carman grins thereat,
And sticks a purchased posie in his hat,
And cracks his whip and treads the rugged streets
With waggish air and jokes with all he meets.
The sickly child from nursery window spies
The tempting show, and for a nosegay cries,
Which placed in china mug, by linnet's cage,
Will for a time his listless mind engage.
The dame precise, moves at the flower-girl's cry,
Laying her patch-work or her netting by,
And from the parlour window casts her eye,
Then sends across the way her tiny maid;
And presently on mantle-piece displayed,
Between fair ornaments of china ware,
Small busts and lackered parrots stationed there,

151

Tulips, anemonies and wallflowers shine,
And strangely with their new compeers combine
Each visitor with wonder to excite,
Who looks and smiles, and lauds the motley sight.
That even to the prison's wretched thrall,
Those simple gems of nature will recall
What soothes the sadness of his dreary state,
Yon narrow window, through whose iron grate
A squalid countenance is dimly traced,
Gazing on flowers in broken pitcher placed
Upon the sooty sill and withering there,
Sad emblems of himself, most piteously declare.

Of what in gentle lady's curtained room,
On storied stands and gilded tripods bloom,
The richest, rarest flowers of every clime,
Whose learned names suit not my simple rhyme,
I speak not! lovely as they are, we find
They visit more the senses than the mind.
Their nurture comes not from the clouds of heaven,
But from a painted watering-pot is given;

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And, in return for daily care, with faint
And sickly sweetness hall and chamber taint.
I will not speak of those; we feel and see
They have no kindred, our own Spring! with thee.

Welcome, sweet season! though with rapid pace
Thy course is run, and we can scarcely grace
Thy joyous coming with a grateful cheer,
Ere loose-leaved flowers and leaflets shrunk and sere,
And flaccid bending stems, sad bodings! tell
We soon must bid our fleeting friend farewell.