Flower Poetry Fridays: The Cactus Speciosissimus

Welcome back to Flower Poetry Fridays with Mrs. Sigourney. Each Friday a new poem will be posted from her The Voice Of Flowers.


Cactus speciosissimus lateritius. By Edwards (Edwards’s Botanical Register vol. 19, plate 1596.) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Cactus speciosissimus lateritius. By Edwards (Edwards’s Botanical Register vol. 19, plate 1596.) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

WHO hung thy beauty on such rugged stalk,
Thou glorious flower ?
          Who poured the richest hues,
In varying radiance, o’er thine ample brow,
And, like a mesh, those tissued stamens laid
Upon thy crimson lip ?
          Thou glorious flower !
Methinks it were no sin to worship thee,
Such passport hast thou from thy Maker’s
To thrill the soul. Lone, on thy leafless stem,
Thou bidd’st the queenly rose, with all her
Do homage, and the greenhouse peerage bow
Their rainbow coronets.
          Hast thou no thought ?
No intellectual life ? thou who can’st wake
Man’s heart to such communings ? no sweet
With which to answer him ? ‘T would almost
That so much beauty needs must have a soul,
And that such form as tints the gazer’s dream,
Held higher spirit than the common clod
On which we tread.
          Yet while we muse, a blight
Steals o’er thee, and thy shrinking bosom
The mournful symptoms of a wan disease.—
I will not stay to see thy beauty fade.
——Still must I bear away within my heart
Thy lesson of our own mortality ;
The fearful withering of each blossomed bough
On which we lean, of every bud we fain
Would hide within our bosoms from the touch
Of the destroyer.
          So instruct us, Lord !
Thou Father of the sunbeam and the soul,
Even by the simple sermon of a flower,
To cling to Thee.

A common theme in Mrs. Sigourney’s writing is the mortality that we’re all strapped with and her desire to communicate with her Maker.

Contemplating flowers, in all their beauty, one can’t help but eventually contemplate one’s own mortality. As the seasons pass we see beautiful flowers arise from little buds, have their time in the sun, and disappointingly fade away too soon.

A plant as sturdy-looking as a cactus won’t last forever either as it’s a mere Mortal Being.

Once a flower has bloomed to help produce the next generation, its time is limited.

We all have our time in the sun, as in our youth, and we all have our time of demise.

Come back next Friday for the next installment in our series of flower poems from Mrs. Sigourney’s The Voice of Flowers, “The Dahlia and Verbena”.

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