The Despot

Original Text: 
Edith Nesbit, Ballads and Lyrics of Socialism 1883-1908 (London: The Fabian Society, and A. C. Fifield, 1908), p. 59. B595 B35 Fisher Library.
1The garden mould was damp and chill,
2Winter had had his brutal will
3Since over all the year's content
4His devastating legions went.
5Then Spring's bright banners came: there woke
6Millions of little growing folk
7Who thrilled to know the winter done,
8Gave thanks, and strove towards the sun.
9Not so the elect; reserved, and slow
10To trust a stranger-sun and grow,
11They hesitated, cowered and hid
12Waiting to see what others did.
13Yet even they, a little, grew,
14Put out prim leaves to day and dew,
15And lifted level formal heads
16In their appointed garden beds.
17The gardener came: he coldly loved
18The flowers that lived as he approved,
19That duly, decorously grew
20As he, the despot, meant them to.
21He saw the wildlings flower more brave
22And bright than any cultured slave;
23Yet, since he had not set them there,
24He hated them for being fair.
25So he uprooted, one by one
26The free things that had loved the sun,
27The happy, eager, fruitful seeds
28That had not known that they were weeds.
RPO poem Editors: 
Ian Lancashire
RPO Edition: 
RPO (1998).