Caroline Bowles Southey

1786-1854

 

My Garden

by Caroline Bowles Southey

I love my garden-dearly love
That little spot of ground;
There's not, methinks, (though I may err
In partial pride,) a pleasanter
In all the country round.

The smooth, green turf winds gently there,
With no ungraceful bend,
Round many a bed and many a border,
Where, gayly grouped in sweet disorder,
Young Flora's darlings blend.

Spring, Summer, Autumn. Of all three,
Whose reign is loveliest there?
O, is not she who paints the ground,
When its frost-fetters are unbound,
The fairest of the fair?

I gaze upon her violet beds,
Laburnums, golden-tressed,
Her flower-spiked almonds, breathe perfume
From lilach and seringa bloom,
And cry, I love Spring best!

But Summer comes, with all her pomp
Of fragrance, beauty, bliss,
And, from amidst her bowers of roses,
I sigh, as purple evening closes,
What season equals this?

That pageant passeth by. Comes next
Brown Autumn in her turn:
O, not unwelcome cometh she;
The parched earth luxuriously
Drinks from her dewy urn.

And she hath flowers, and fragrance to,
Peculiarly her own;
Asters of every hue; perfume
Spiced rich with clematis and broom,
And mignionette late blown.

Then if some lingering rose I spy
Reclining languidly,
Or the bright laurel's glossy green,
Dear Autumn, my whole heart, I ween,
Leaps up for love of thee

O yes! I love my garden well,
And find employment there, --
Employment sweet for many an hour
In tending every shrub and flower
With still unwearied care.

I prop the weakly, prune the rude,
Scatter the various seeds,
Clear out intruders, yet of those
Oft sparing what the florist knows
To be but gaudy weeds.

But when my task -- my pleasant task --
Is ended for the day, --
Sprinkled o'er every sun-bowed flower
The artificial evening shower,
Then oftentimes I stray,

(Inherent is the love of change
In human hearts,) far, far
Beyond the garden gate, -- the bound
That clips my little Eden round,
Chance for my leading star, --

Through hollow lanes or coppice paths,
By hill or hawthorn fence,
O'er thymy commons, clover fields,
Where every step I take reveals
Some charm of sight or sense

The winding path brings suddenly
A rustic bridge in sight;
Beneath it, gushing brightly out,
The rivulet, where speckled trout
Leap in the circling light.

Pale water-lilies float thereon,
The Naiads' loveliest wreath;
The adders' tongues dip down to drink
The flag peers high above the brink,
From her long, slender sheath.

There, on the greensward, an old oak
Stands singly; one, I trow,
Whose mighty shadow spread as wide
When they were in their prime who die
A hundred years ago.

A single ewe, with her twin lambs,
Stands the gray trunk beside;
Others lie clustering in the shade,
Or down the windings of the glade
Are scattered far and wide.

Two mossy thorns, o'er yonder stile,
A bowery archway rise;
O, what a flood of fragrance thence
Breathes out! Behind that hazel fence
A flowering bean-field lies.

The shadowy path winds gently on
That hazel fence beneath;
The wild-rose and the woodbine there
Shoot up, festooning high in air
Their oft-entangled wreath

The path winds on, on either side
Walled in by hedges high;
Their boughs so thickly arching over,
That scarce one speck you can discover --
One speck of the blue sky.

A lovely gloom! It pleaseth me
And lonely Philomel.
Hark! the enchantress sings; that strain
Dies with a tremulous fall; -- again --
O, what a gushing swell!

Darker and darker still the road,
Scarce lit by twilight glances;
Darker and darker still -- but see!
Yonder, on that young aspen-tree,
A darting sunbeam dances.

Another gems the bank below
With emeralds; into one
They blend -- unite -- one emerald sea;
And last, in all his majesty,
Breaks through the setting sun.

And I am breathless, motionless,
Mute with delight and love;
My very being seems to blend
With all around me -- to ascend
To the great Source above.

I feel I am a spark struck out
From an eternal flame;
A part of the stupendous whole;
His work who breathed a deathless soul
Into this mortal frame.

And they shall perish -- all these things;
Darkness shall quench this ball;
Death-throes this solid earth shall rive;
Yet I -- frail thing of dust! -- survive
The final wreck of all.

Wake up, my glory! lute and harp
Be vocal every chord!
Lo! all his works in concert sing,
Praise, praise to the Eternal King,
The Universal Lord!

O powerless will! O languid voice.
Weak words! imperfect lays!
Yet could his works alone inspire
The feelings that attune my lyre
To these faint notes of praise.

Not to the charms of tasteful art
That I am cold or dull;
I gaze on all the graceful scene,
The clustering flowers, the velvet green,
And cry. How beautiful!

But when to Nature's book I turn, --
The page she spreads abroad,
Tears, only to mine eyes that steal,
Bear witness that I see and feel
The mighty hand of God.

Source:

The Floral Wreath Of Autumn Flowers
Copyright 1850
Detroit: Kerr, Doughty and Lapham
 
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