John Boyle O'Reilly

(28 June 1844 - 10 August 1890 / Dowth Castle, County Meath)

Withered Snowdrops - Poem by John Boyle O'Reilly

THEY came in the early spring-days,
With the first refreshing showers
And I watched the growing beauty
Of the little drooping flowers.

They had no bright hues to charm me,
No gay painting to allure;
But they made me think of angels,
They were all so white and pure.

In the early morns I saw them,
Dew-drops clinging to each bell.
And the first glad sunbeam hasting
Just to kiss them ere they fell.

Daily grew their spotless beauty;
But I feared when chill winds blew
They were all too frail and tender,—
And alas! my fears were true.

One glad morn I went to see them
While the bright drops gemmed their snow,
And one angel flower was withered,
Its fair petals drooping low.

Its white sister's tears fell on it,
And the sunbeam sadly shone:
For its innocence was withered,
And its purity was gone.

Still I left it there: I could not
Tear it rudely from its place;
It might rise again, and summer
Might restore its vanished grace.

But my hopes grew weaker, weaker,
And my heart with grief was pained
When I knew it must be severed
From the innocence it stained.

I must take it from the pure ones:
Henceforth they must live apart.
But I could not cut my flow'ret—
My lost angel—from my heart.

Oft I think of that dead snowdrop,
Think with sorrow, when I meet,
Day by day. the poor lost flowers,—
Sullied snowdrops of the street.

They were pure once, loved and loving.
And there still lives good within.
Ah! speak gently to them: harsh words
Will not lead them from their sin.

They are not like withered flowers
That can never bloom again:
They can rise, bright angel snowdrops,
Purified from every stain.

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Poem Submitted: Monday, May 21, 2012

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