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Alfred Austin

(30 May 1835 – 2 June 1913 / Headingley)

A Country Nosegay


Where have you been through the long sweet hours
That follow the fragrant feet of June?
By the dells and the dingles gathering flowers,
Ere the dew of the dawn be sipped by noon.

And sooth each wilding that buds and blows
You seem to have found and clustered here,
Round the rustic sprays of the child-like rose
That smiles in one's face till it stirs a tear.

The clambering vetch, and the meadow-sweet tall,
That nodded good-day as you sauntered past,
And the poppy flaunting atop of the wall,
Which, proud as glory, will fade as fast.

The campion bladders the children burst,
The bramble that clutches and won't take nay,
And the pensive delicate foxgloves nursed
In woods that curtain from glare of day.

The prosperous elder that always smells
Of homely joys and the cares that bless,
And the woodbine's waxen and honeyed cells,
A hive of the sweetest idleness.

And this wayside nosegay is all for me,
For me, the poet-the word sounds strong;-
Well, for him at least, whatever he be,
Who has loitered his morning away in song.

And though sweetest poems that ever were writ,
With the posy that up to my gaze you lift,
Seem void of music and poor of wit,
Yet I guess your meaning, and take your gift.

For 'tis true among fields and woods I sing,
Aloof from cities, and my poor strains
Were born, like the simple flowers you bring,
In English meadows and English lanes.

If e'er in my verse lurks tender thought,
'Tis borrowed from cushat or blackbird's throat;
If sweetness any, 'tis culled or caught
From boughs that blossom and clouds that float.

No rare exotics nor forced are these;
They budded in darkness and throve in storm;
They drank their colour from rain and breeze,
And from sun and season they took their form.

They peeped through the drift of the winter snows;
They waxed and waned with the waning moon;
Their music they stole from the deep-hushed rose,
And all the year round to them is June.

So let us exchange, nor ask who gains,
What each has saved from the morning hours:
Take, such as they are, my wilding strains,
And I will accept your wilding flowers.

Submitted: Thursday, April 08, 2010

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