Lizette Woodworth Reese

(January 9, 1856 – December 17, 1935 / Waverly)

Herbs Poem by Lizette Woodworth Reese


A serviceable thing
Is fennel, mint, or balm,
Kept in the thrifty calm
Of hollows, in the spring;
Or by old houses pent.
Dear is its ancient scent
To folk that love the days forgot,
Nor think that God is not.

Sage, lavender, and rue,
For body’s hurt and ill,
For fever and for chill;
Rosemary, strange with dew,
For sorrow and its smart,
For breaking of the heart.
Yet pain, dearth, tears, all come to dust,
As even the herbs must.

Life-everlasting, too,
Windless, poignant, and sere,
That blows in the old year,
Townsmen, for me and you.
Why fret for wafting airs?
Why haste to sell our wares?
Captains and clerks, this shall befall;
This is the end of all.

Oh, this the end indeed!
Oh, unforgotten things,

Gone out of all the springs;
The quest, the dream, the creed!
Gone out of all the lands,
And yet safe in God’s hands; —
For shall the dull herbs live again,
And not the sons of men?

Submitted: Saturday, December 17, 2011

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