Robert William Service (16 January 1874 - 11 September 1958 / Preston)
The poppies that in Spring I sow,
In rings of radiance gleam and glow,
Like lords and ladies gay.
A joy are they to dream beside,
As in the air of eventide
They flutter, dip and sway.
For some are scarlet, some are gold,
While some in fairy flame unfold,
And some are rose and white.
There's pride of breeding in their glance,
And pride of beauty as they dance
Cotillions of delight.
Yet as I lift my eyes I see
Their swarthy kindred wild and free.
Who flaunt it in the field.
"Begone, you Romanies!" I say,
"Lest you defile this bright array
Whose loveliness I shield."
My poppies are a sheen of light;
They take with ecstasy the sight,
And hold the heart elate . . . .
Yet why do I so often turn
To where their outcast brothers burn
With passion at my gate?
My poppies are my joy and pride;
Yet wistfully I gaze outside
To where their sisters yearn;
Their blowzy crimson cups afire,
Their lips aflutter with desire
To give without return.
My poppies dance a minuet;
Like courtiers in silk they set
My garden all aglow . . . .
Yet O the vagrants at my gate!
The gipsy trulls who peer and wait! . . .
Calling the heart they know.
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