A Basket of Flowers

From Dawn to Dusk

Original Text: 

Poems, ed. Robert A. Thompson (London and Melbourne: A. H. Massina, 1920). Sydney Electronic Text and Image Service (SETIS), digital text sponsored by AustLit: http://setis.library.usyd.edu.au/ozlit

DAWN
1On skies still and starlit
2White lustres take hold,
3And grey flushes scarlet,
4    And red flashes gold.
5And sun-glories cover
6The rose, shed above her,
7Like lover and lover
8    They flame and unfold.
9* * * * *
10Still bloom in the garden
11    Green grass-plot, fresh lawn,
12Though pasture lands harden
13    And drought fissures yawn.
14While leaves not a few fall,
15Let rose-leaves for you fall
16Leaves pearl-strung with dew-fall,
17    And gold shot with dawn.
18Does the grass-plot remember
19    The fall of your feet
20In Autumn's red ember
21    When drought leagues with heat,
22When the last of the roses
23Despairingly closes
24In the lull that reposes
25    Ere storm winds wax fleet?
26Love's melodies languish
29    Is love's pleasant pain!
31Love's blessings and curses
32In passionate verses
33    Again and again.
34And I! -- I have heard of
35All these long ago,
36Yet never one word of
37Their song-lore I know;
38Not under my finger
39In songs of the singer
40Love's litanies linger,
41    Love's rhapsodies flow.
42Fresh flowers in a basket --
43    An offering to you --
44Though you did not ask it,
45    Unbidden I strew;
46With heat and drought striving
47Some blossoms still living
48May render thanksgiving
49    For dawn and for dew.
50The garlands I gather,
51    The rhymes I string fast,
52Are hurriedly rather
53   Then heedlessly cast.
54Yon tree's shady awning
55Is short'ning, and warning,
56Far spent is the morning,
57    And I must ride fast.
58Songs empty, yet airy,
59    I've striven to write,
60For failure, dear Mary!
61    Forgive me -- Good-night!
62Songs and flowers may beset you,
63I can only regret you,
64While the soil where I met you
65    Recedes from my sight.
66For the sake of past hours,
67    For the love of old times,
68Take 'A Basket of Flowers,'
69    And a bundle of rhymes;
70Though all the bloom perish
71E'en your hand can cherish,
73    The verse-jingle chimes.
74And Eastward by Nor'ward
75    Looms sadly my track,
76And I must ride forward,
77    And still I look back, --
78Look back -- Ah, how vainly!
79For while I see plainly,
80My hands on the reins lie
81    Uncertain and slack.
82The warm wind breathes strong breath,
83    The dust dims mine eye,
84And I draw one long breath,
85    And stifle one sigh.
86Green slopes softly shaded,
87Have flitted and faded --
88My dreams flit as they did --
89    Good-night! -- and -- Good-bye!
    * * * * *
DUSK
90Lost rose! end my story!
91    Dead core and dry husk --
92Departed thy glory
93    And tainted thy musk.
94Night spreads her dark limbs on
95The face of the dim sun,
96So flame fades to crimson
97    And crimson to dusk.

Notes

27] Chastelard: Pierre de Bocosel de Chastelard (1540-1562), a young French poet who fell in love with Mary, Queen of Scots. Recommended to her by his protector, Henri I de Montmorency, Constable of France, Chastelard was able to gain access to the Queen. He apparently professed a rather obsessive love to her, and even hid himself under her bed. This offence was pardoned by the Queen; however, when Chastelard a second time violated Queen Mary's privacy, he was seized and either hanged or beheaded (the historical record is unclear). Back to Line
28] Abelard: Peter Abelard (1079-1142), French philosopher, scholar, theologian and university teacher. Abelard is best known for his passionate love affair with Heloise, a girl twenty years his junior who was his pupil. The couple married in secret, but the lovers were eventually separated. Notoriously, Heloise's uncle, Abbot Fulbert, had Abelard castrated in revenge for the love affair. Back to Line
30] Sappho: Greek poet (approx. 620 BCE-570 BCE) born on the Greek island of Lesbos, and famous for her lyrical poetry, including poetry of love. Sappho lived most of her life on Lesbos, except for a period of exile in Sicily. The bulk of her poetry has been lost, but sufficient fragments remain to continue the reputation Sappho had from ancient times as one of the finest Greek poets. Back to Line
72] churlish: rude in a mean-spirited and surly way. Back to Line
Publication Start Year: 
1870
Publication Notes: 

Bush Ballads and Galloping Rhymes (1870)

RPO poem Editors: 
Cameron La Follette
RPO Edition: 
2012
Rhyme: 
Form: