Thomas Hardy

(2 June 1840 – 11 January 1928 / Dorchester / England)

The Last Chrysanthemum


Why should this flower delay so long
   To show its tremulous plumes?
Now is the time of plaintive robin-song,
   When flowers are in their tombs.

Through the slow summer, when the sun
   Called to each frond and whorl
That all he could for flowers was being done,
   Why did it not uncurl?

It must have felt that fervid call
   Although it took no heed,
Waking but now, when leaves like corpses fall,
   And saps all retrocede.

Too late its beauty, lonely thing,
   The season's shine is spent,
Nothing remains for it but shivering
   In tempests turbulent.

Had it a reason for delay,
   Dreaming in witlessness
That for a bloom so delicately gay
   Winter would stay its stress?

- I talk as if the thing were born
   With sense to work its mind;
Yet it is but one mask of many worn
   By the Great Face behind.

Submitted: Saturday, January 04, 2003

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