Verse > Anthologies > The World’s Best Poetry > Vol. V. Nature
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Bliss Carman, et al., eds.  The World’s Best Poetry.
Volume V. Nature.  1904.
 
V. Trees: Flowers: Plants
To the Dandelion
James Russell Lowell (1819–1891)
 
  DEAR common flower, that grow’st beside the way,
Fringing the dusty road with harmless gold!
      First pledge of blithesome May,
Which children pluck, and, full of pride, uphold—
  High-hearted buccaneers, o’erjoyed that they        5
An Eldorado in the grass have found,
    Which not the rich earth’s ample round
  May match in wealth!—thou art more dear to me
  Than all the prouder summer-blooms may be.
 
  Gold such as thine ne’er drew the Spanish prow        10
Through the primeval hush of Indian seas;
      Nor wrinkled the lean brow
Of age to rob the lover’s heart of ease.
  ’T is the spring’s largess, which she scatters now
To rich and poor alike, with lavish hand;        15
    Though most hearts never understand
  To take it at God’s value, but pass by
  The offered wealth with unrewarded eye.
 
  Thou art my tropics and mine Italy;
To look at thee unlocks a warmer clime;        20
      The eyes thou givest me
Are in the heart, and heed not space or time:
  Not in mid June the golden-cuirassed bee
Feels a more summer-like warm ravishment
    In the white lily’s breezy tent,        25
  His conquered Sybaris, than I, when first
  From the dark green thy yellow circles burst.
 
  Then think I of deep shadows on the grass;
Of meadows where in sun the cattle graze,
      Where, as the breezes pass,        30
The gleaming rushes lean a thousand ways;
  Of leaves that slumber in a cloudy mass,
Or whiten in the wind; of waters blue,
    That from the distance sparkle through
  Some woodland gap; and of a sky above,        35
  Where one white cloud like a stray lamb doth move.
 
  My childhood’s earliest thoughts are linked with thee;
The sight of thee calls back the robin’s song,
      Who, from the dark old tree
Beside the door, sang clearly all day long;        40
  And I, secure in childish piety,
Listened as if I heard an angel sing
    With news from heaven, which he did bring
  Fresh every day to my untainted ears,
  When birds and flowers and I were happy peers.        45
 
  How like a prodigal doth nature seem
When thou, for all thy gold, so common art!
      Thou teachest me to deem
More sacredly of every human heart,
  Since each reflects in joy its scanty gleam        50
Of heaven, and could some wondrous secret show,
    Did we but pay the love we owe,
  And with a child’s undoubting wisdom look
  On all these living pages of God’s book.
 
 
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