To the Houstonia Cerulea

How often, modest flower,
I mark thy tender blossoms, where they spread
Along the turfy slope, their starry bed,
Hung heavy with the shower.

Thou comest in the dawn
Of Nature's promise, when the sod of May
Is speckled with its earliest array,
And strewest with bloom the lawn.

'Tis but a few brief days,
I saw the green hill in its fold of snow;
But now thy slender stems arise, and blow
In April's fitful rays.

I love thee, delicate
And humble as thou art: thy dress of white,
And blue, and all the tints where these unite,
Or wrapped in spiral plait,

Or to the glancing sun,
Shining through checkered cloud, and dewy shower,
Unfolding thy fair cross. Yes, tender flower,
Thy blended colors run,

And meet in harmony,
Commingling, like the rainbow tints; thy urn
Of yellow rises with a graceful turn,
And as a golden eye

Its softly swelling throat
Shines in the centre of thy circle, where
Thy downy stigma rises slim and fair,
And catches as they float,

A cloud of living air,
The atom seeds of fertilizing dust,
That hover, as thy lurking anthers burst;
And oh! how purely there.

Thy snowy circle, rayed
With crosslets, bends its pearly whiteness round,
And how thy spreading lips are trimly bound,
With such a mellow shade.

As in the vaulted blue
Deepens at starry midnight, or grows pale
When mantled in the full-moon's silver veil,
That calm, ethereal hue.

I love thee, modest flower!
And I do find it happiness to tread,
With careful step, along thy studded bed,
At morning's freshest hour,

Or when the day declines,
And evening comes with dewy footsteps on,
And, now his golden hall of slumber won,
The setting sun resigns

His empire of the sky,
And the cool breeze awakes her fluttering train.
I walk through thy parterres, and not in vain,
For to my downward eye,

Sweet flower! thou tell'st how hearts
As pure and tender as thy leaf, as low
And humble as thy stem, will surely know
The joy that peace imparts.
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