William Bell Scott

(1811-1890 / Scotland)

The Foxglove:


A REMINISCENCE OF THE WAR 1870.

I.

That foxglove by the garden gate,
The very day the war began,
Opened its first, its lowest flower.
The post that morn was late;
Anxious I waited for the man,
Then went into this wild-rose bower,
And heard the warning voice of fate.

Week by week, even day by day,
Another petal opened fair,
Advancing up the long light stem:
I counted them,
As I passed there,
While my heart was far away,
Listening early, listening late,
To the German march—the march of Fate:
And when France lay
Quivering in the gory clay,
The topmost bell
Rang a dirge before it fell.


II.
Oft throughout that deadly fight,
We owned that might was right.
For from the step of the Madeleine,
Amid the trumpets' loud fanfare,
Years long ago we had seen there
Louis, triumphant from the South,
Hailed by the brutal popular mouth;
Through the streets where late the stain
Of blood lay did his triumph fare.
I heard the cheer;
While many said the day must come,
When, God with us, right shall be might.
Behold! with cannon, trump, and drum
Now was it here!
The span of time
A foxglove bloom its stalk might climb,
He passed for ever from our sight.

Submitted: Thursday, April 22, 2010

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