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His Nymph Goes Botanizing


ISSUE:  Spring 1929

To Cicely,
Aged 15

“Tomorrow,” said my Nymph, ‘Til go
And botanize with you”; and so,
Tomorrow, in the curious way That morrows have, became today;
And we have roamed about for hours,
Poking our noses into flowers.
Skirting the cedar of Lebanon,
The pond with lily-pads afloat,
The owl-inhabited barn, and on
By nut-grove and by pigeon-cote,
We rifled meadow, lane and hedge,
Down to the reed-grown water-edge.
So deep the marsh, we sought the stile,
Stood on a low stone bridge awhile;
A snipe shot up, away it went
And left a sense of wonderment;
We heard its loud, then distant drumming,
The bird had gone and summer’s coming.
But spring, as yet, just peeping out,
Not many flowers have got about.
Still, every, time I saw you lean Over a leaf with quickened sight,
Some blossom hitherto unseen Stood up as in a ray of light: Not buttercup, not aconite,
Not primrose and not celandine;
You, you, it was, that made them shine.

April’s the time of coming things,
Of hopes and faithful promisings;
So, while the dog-rose only flings
A stem where even the leaves are shy,
It will have roses bye and bye.
Bramble is worse, for he’s no better
Than thriftless tramp or hopeless debtor,
For look, how shabbily he goes
In weathered leaves, old worn-out clothes.
You smiled upon my hedge-row tramp,
Then pointed to a silver lamp,—
Stitchwort, or Star of Bethlehem,
Brightening the dead leaves, dull and damp:
Yet it was you that brightened them
More than the Star of Bethlehem.
Now in the stream the reeds are growing,
Sworded rushes their blades are showing;
With tiny flowers the water-cress
Scatters a wide faint starriness.
Half-hid in grass, yet twinkling through,
Ground-ivy winks its eyes of blue.
Here’s shepherd’s-purse on a farm-yard wall,
Gold-moss and stone-crop, meek and small.
Then, at their feet, that woolly weed,
Groundsel with puff of fluffy seed.
Well-named, and sounding rather silly,
Here’s the persistent sticky-billy.
Still, it is you, and only you,
Not windflower and not columbine,
That tells me spring begins to shine.
Old moody oak looks winter-grim,
Spite of brown leaf-buds on the limb,
Yet by his moss-embedded root Wild strawberry blossoms promise fruit,
And wild geranium tall and slim Bears a delicate maiden grace.
How prettily the cuckoo-flower
Wooed diamonds from a wealthy shower;
Pitching their tents in a woodland space,
These lords-and-ladies well may be
An exiled aristocracy;
Enquire their names, and we shall find
Orlando and his Rosalind.
Nymph, you would turn a cottage garden Into the fairy, glades of Arden! When I am darkness through and through,
Magic casement,
I come to you,
And the world opens, fresh and new.
Mind is a kingdom; take the throne And lead your flowery subjects on;
Heart is a temple; you the priest,
And flowers are guests at our,
Love-Feast.
Do some escape us?—Out, again,
My Nymph, by highway, hedge and lane,
Those loitering wedding guests to find For our great feast of heart and mind.

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