Elsie Cole

(1884 - 1968 / Melbourne / Australia)

The Herb Of Grace


Find some freckled fern seed to sprinkle in your shoes
And you may step invisible down the peopled street,
Or curve about the apple boughs like swallows if you choose,
Lifted by the elfin wings that tingle in your feet.
Oh, you may cull a-many sweets with fern seed iin your shoe!
But leave alone the rue--
Little boy, little girl,
Leave alone the rue!

Keep the downy dittany and storms will bring you calm,
Fill a vervain pillow for a thought-grieved head;
Cherish balm whene'er you can, there's none too much of balm,
And never stop for rosemary, 'twill follow where you tread.
Taste the scarlet love-apple, if youth will drive you to,
But leave alone the rue--
Fair lass, fine lad,
Leave alone the rue!

Mix tansy in your Easter cake and earn a placid year,
For though you cross the Little Folk they cannot then offend;
Give a spray and take a spray of ivy from your dear,
But pay with coin for parsley, or its price will be a friend.
Wear a four-leafed clover and the charm will win you through;
But leave alone the rue--
Grave man, wise woman,
Leave alone the rue!

Lovelier than wealth is laughing potentilla's gold,
Eyebright is beautiful and kind to eyes that weep;
Rich herbs of healing the wild glens hold
With hemlock and foxglove for those sick for sleep.
Surely there are flowers enough and strong leaves too!
Must you gather rue?
Poor things, poor things,
Leave alone the rue!

Come the aged creeping, each with wreaths for his own grave,
Dried roses, laurel leaves, wisps of dead grass,
Young-eyed forget-me-nots that old tears lave,
Heartsease, and love-lies-bleeding, bare thorns, alas!
Choice of life's harvesting that tells the tale true!
And all carry rue,
Evergreen, bitter green,
All carry rue!

Submitted: Wednesday, April 21, 2010

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