Edith Nesbit

(15 August 1858 – 4 May 1924 / Kennington / Surrey / England)

The Despot


1 The garden mould was damp and chill,
2 Winter had had his brutal will
3 Since over all the year's content
4 His devastating legions went.

5 Then Spring's bright banners came: there woke
6 Millions of little growing folk
7 Who thrilled to know the winter done,
8 Gave thanks, and strove towards the sun.

9 Not so the elect; reserved, and slow
10 To trust a stranger-sun and grow,
11 They hesitated, cowered and hid
12 Waiting to see what others did.

13 Yet even they, a little, grew,
14 Put out prim leaves to day and dew,
15 And lifted level formal heads
16 In their appointed garden beds.

17 The gardener came: he coldly loved
18 The flowers that lived as he approved,
19 That duly, decorously grew
20 As he, the despot, meant them to.

21 He saw the wildlings flower more brave
22 And bright than any cultured slave;
23 Yet, since he had not set them there,
24 He hated them for being fair.

25 So he uprooted, one by one
26 The free things that had loved the sun,
27 The happy, eager, fruitful seeds
28 That had not known that they were weeds.

Submitted: Tuesday, December 31, 2002

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