William Bell Scott

(1811-1890 / Scotland)

Hortus Paradisi - Poem by William Bell Scott

‘Feeble waifs on darkling strand;
Lost the power of heart or hand;
Better the vilest starveling slave,
In daylight other side the grave;
Would that I, like thee, could go!’
So said the king of Grecian men
To his questioner below.
But a mightier teacher rose
Over Calvary's empty tomb,
And haply then
That future country lost its gloom;
More lovely in that world than this,
Immaculate the white lily grows,
And perfected we walk in bliss.

‘When blooms are best, they 'gin to go!’
Our moralising gardener said;
Yes, it must indeed be so,
Thus nature's cycle must be read.
But if the longing of the heart
Is to be listened to at all,
'Tis merely sad from friends to part,
When the face turns against the wall.
The curtain falls this side the sun,
But we upon the farther side
Shall find another walk begun
With flowers as fair on fields as wide.
If this hath been so from of old,
What multitudes of souls wake there!
Their earth-like motives dead and cold,
With other names, if names they bear.
Thus we grope this side the sun,
Blind-folded children play just so:
Time is eternity begun,
‘When blooms are best, they 'gin to go.’

Perhaps,—the future still must be
The great Perhaps,—love still will reign
Beyond the dark unsounded sea,
Sympathy be our guide again.
Perhaps some difference will remain
Between the weaker and the strong,
So we may recognise, regain,
The greater chiefs of art and song.
Perhaps a single one at least
Of all the race! If this is so,
Then we shall know our great high-priest,
Our strongest, Michael Angelo.

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Poem Submitted: Thursday, April 22, 2010

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