Kate Harrington

(1831 - 1917 / Allegheny City, Pennsylvania)

Flowers - Poem by Kate Harrington

Who loves not flowers?—a forest in its dress
Of verdure, rich with figures colored bright ?
Not gaudily, but with such hues as press
With a soft, mellow touch upon the sight,
Wooing the vision's love.
'Tis art alone
Yields gaudy tints to flowers by culture, which
Dame Nature ne'er employs when they are grown
In fields and forests; there they put forth rich,
Indeed, but unassuming forms, with cups
For dew and odors for the zephyrs. Naught ,
Intrudes there, nothing rude that interrupts
The plastic course of Nature ; all is wrought,
The smallest flower expanding, to emit
Unsullied fragrance, pure ambrosial drops,
Reflecting colors, by its structure fit
To enchain the mind in thought. The storm crops
Not a blossom, laying the forest bare;
From among the ruins every flower looks
Blooming still without a nurse's care,
Save Nature, to protect it ; and the brooks,
Though cumbered with the fragments, still gush free
To bathe the violet's head, lest Sol's fierce ray
Might else the floweret sear.
In childhood's glee,
When my light spirits bubbled up in play,
I thought with Darwin lovely flowers could feel,
Were sentient beings, and could laugh or weep.
It was my wont to sit for hours, or steal
Around to see the florid things asleep,
Or, waking up, give forth a cheerful smile
After a pleasant nap. Thus to employ
My time, or much of it, did oft beguile
With rosy bliss the too confiding boy.
Yet 'twas not all illusion. Years mature,
With notice and research, conviction brought,
That flowers at night enjoy repose, secure
From harm, as if the blooming gems were taught
By Nature to seek rest, awake as we,
Refreshed, and with the morn expand in bloom.
Who loves not flowers? At morn and noon, the bee
Within their nectaries, while they perfume
The air, sips honey for the hive, the boon
Imparted freely as the light of day;
And thus do flowers instruct us to attune
The heart to such emotions as display
Unstinted charity from private means,
And while we thus in secret give, around
Diffuse benevolence divine, which screens
The poor from wretchedness wherever found.
Who loves not flowers? To study them, to learn
The use of every organ, how it plies
Its power instinctive to one end, discern
The avenues of health, and when it dies,
To see a flower resign to death its form
With all its loveliness; these to the mind
Impressive truths convey, the bosom warms
With pure devotion, feelings all refined.
Who loves not flowers? 'Tis pleasant to converse
With them. As learned mutes their thoughts unfold
By signs, so Flora's pupils can rehearse
By symbols clear and cogent : they can mold
The callous heart so as to make it feel
The force of virtue, can convince, reclaim
The inward and the outward man, reveal
What Inspiration urges as the aim,
Design, and reason of our living here;
And thus with Heaven's own Book of faith and love,
Unite in yielding proof direct and clear
Of life hereafter. Then, who loves not flowers?

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Poem Submitted: Friday, August 8, 2014

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