Verse > Anthologies > Alfred H. Miles, ed. > Women Poets of the Nineteenth Century
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Alfred H. Miles, ed.  Women Poets of the Nineteenth Century.  1907.
 
Leaves of Life (1888)
I. Winter Violets
By Edith (Nesbit) Bland (1858–1924)
 
To M. O.

DEATH-WHITE azaleas watched beside my bed,
  And tried to tell me tales of Southern lands;
But they in hothouse air were born and bred,
  And they were gathered by a stranger’s hands:
They were not sweet, they never had been free,        5
And all their pallid beauty had no voice for me.
 
And all I longed for was one common flower
  Fed by soft mists and rainy English air,
A flower that knew the woods, the leafless bower,
  The wet, green moss, the hedges sharp and bare—        10
A flower that spoke my language, and could tell
Of all the woods and ways my heart remembers well.
 
Then came your violets—and at once I heard
  The sparrows chatter on the dripping eaves,
The full stream’s babbling inarticulate word,        15
  The plash of rain on big wet ivy-leaves;
I saw the woods where thick the dead leaves lie,
And smelt the fresh earth’s scent—the scent of memory.
 
The unleafed trees—the lichens green and gray,
  The wide sad-coloured meadows, and the brown        20
Fields that sleep now, and dream of harvest day,
  Hiding their seeds like hopes in hearts pent down—
A thousand dreams, a thousand memories
Your violets’ voices breathed in unheard melodies—
 
Unheard by all but me. I heard, I blessed        25
  The little English, English-speaking things
For their sweet selves that laid my wish to rest,
  For their sweet help that lent my dreaming wings;
And, most of all, for all the thoughts of you
Which make them smell more sweet than other violets do.        30
 
 
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