Welcome back to Flower Poetry Fridays with Mrs. Sigourney. Each Friday a new poem will be posted from her The Voice Of Flowers.
A CIRCLE OF FRIENDS*
COMPARED TO FLOWERS.
Go seek the choicest sweets that Nature fair
Hath kindly trusted to the culturer’s care,—
Unfolding buds, with vernal dew-drops pure,
Resplendent flowers, that summer suns ma-
And changeless plants, whose firmer breasts
The frosts of autumn, or the wintry sky.
Bring first the thornless Rose, of colors rare,
Fresh, bright, and graceful, from the florist’s
That reared in bowers, where nought was ever
To chill, depress, contaminate, or wound,
Knows no dark art to rouse the breath of strife,
And bears enchantment for the vale of life.
Mark well yon Lily, on its stately stem,
Whose snowy leaves conceal a polish’d gem,
Thou may’st not miss it in the loveliest train,
Nor once beheld, forget its charms again ;
Go, bow to taste its fragrance, and request
The favoring presence of the cherish’d guest.
And thou, Mimosa, dear and trembling flower,
Come from thy cell, — unshrinking leave thy
No pressure rude, thy folded buds shall harm,
No touch unkind thy tender leaves alarm ;
Though in the world’s rough journey thou
Unkindred spirits, none shall meet thee here ;
This gentle band are form’d with thee to feel,
And well they prize what thou would’st fain
Come, loved and fearless, while our care shall
Fast by thy side, thy sister Violet,
Still cheerful, unobtrusive, and serene,
To grace the high, or deck the lowly scene ;
High be his bosom honor’d who shall gain
This as a solace, and a charm for pain.
The Woodbine next, whose graceful tendrils
In sweet luxuriance round the parent vine,
Whose heaven-born fragrance breathes reviv-
‘Neath dewy evening, or the summer shower,
Shall bless our wreath, for this can teach to
The morn of pleasure, or the night of woe.
Thou, too, pale Lily, leave thy native vale,
And yield thine essence to our fresher gale,
What though thy bending head no gaze would
Thy perfume guides us to thy green retreat,
Where lingering zephyrs round thee gently
And catch the tones of music as they fly.
The orange Cowslip, pure in heart, and gay,
Bestows its beauty on our fair bouquet,
Known by its sweetness, for its worth ap-
If seen, remember’d, if remember’d lov’d.
And there, " wee, modest, crimson-tipped
Meek Mountain Daisy, pride of friendship’s
Come all unconscious of thy winning grace,
And lend thy lusture to our charmed vase.
Wilt thou, bright Pink, all graceful as thou
Still ‘mid our circle form a cherish’d part ?
Or wouldst thou rather, in thy native glade,
Reserve thine incense for the healer’s aid ?
From beauty’s sheltered sphere roam onward
Invoking forms of loftier strength and pride,
That while the house-plants round the hearth
As future years the varied lot bestow,
Perchance strong conflict with the storm may
Or tower, the master spirits of the age.
Why do we ask the Laurel here to glow ?
Is it that fame or glory blind us ? No !
But that it hath a spirit nobly bold,
To bide the blast, or brave the tempest cold.
Not train’d by art, or nursed in idle ease,
Or taught to bow to what the world shall please,
But independent, and to honor true,
Might guard the weak, and charm the tasteful
One, too, there is, whose latent virtues claim
Of constancy, the undisputed name ;
Who seeks, by shrinking in his favorite cell,
The applause to shun, that he deserves so well ;
Yet all in vain, for few can fail to prize
The hues that change not with the changing
Wilt thou, Oh Sage ! from cloistered study
To heed our summons, and delight our train ?
" Cur moriator homo,"** might we say,
"Dum salvia crescit in horto," but the lay,
Cramp’d by the unyielding chains of Saxon
Suits not the Roman proverb, boldly terse ;
Still more unworthy is this pencil faint,
Thy many virtues, lenient Sage, to paint.
And thou, Geranium, half exotic, say,
Why art thou from the ancestral halls away ?
Thou need’st no gift that nature did not lend,
Or art improve, or cultivation blend :
Yet if thou better lov’st a sunnier sky,
Breathe there the fragrance that can never
The meek Narcissus next invites our care,
With fragile stalk and efflorescence fair,
Which anxious friendship fears will scarce en-
The world’s contagion, with a brow so pure ;
Yet this, perchance, may bear the dangerous
For heaven’s own spirit lives within its breast.
Lure from its home, ‘mid green Vermonia’s
The English Holly to our classic train,
That fearless, firm, and scorning all disguise,
Where’er it dwells, points upward to the skies.
The Lilac, prompt to heed the call of Spring,
Shuns not the summons to our magic ring ;
We saw it o’er the way-side traveller cast
Shade from the heat, and covert from the blast,
Yet from the meed of fame retire, to throw
Its wealth of fragrance on the vale below.
And shall the verdant Myrtle be forgot,
All unassuming in its shaded spot ?
Perchance we may not win its wreathing vine
From Coke and Blackstone, where it fain
Yet might it be persuaded thus to cheer
The glowing circle, it were welcome here.
The varied Tulip, versatile and gay,
With colors changing to the changing ray,
Attracts the stranger by its brilliant dye,
And with rich tissue charms the studious eye,
Yet better loves in southern climes to bide,
Than hear the accents of our praise or pride.
Now bind the treasur’d sweetness.
Do you say
That aught is wanting ? There are none away.
A plant there is, indeed, from mountains
But blossom, flower, or fragrance, it hath none ;
Yet since ye call it forth, with friendship kind,
It hath a tendril round your stalks to bind,
A rustic shoot, the florist ne’er could teach,
Yet loves the brilliance it despairs to reach.
*At the dissolution of a Literary Society, whose members (nine
of each sex) were united in friendship as well as in intellectual
pursuit, it was proposed that some emblematic poem should
preserve the recollection of their pleasant intercourse. Thus
the foregoing poem, which has been hitherto unpublished, was
called into existence ; and a beautifully painted bouquet was
also executed by another member, in which the eighteen per-
sonified flowers were tastefully grouped.
The arbitrary signification of the inmates of Flora’s realm
not being as generally adopted at that period, as now, the se-
lections in the foregoing lines were founded less upon those,
than upon some supposed resemblance between the flowers and the character they typified. Now, at the expiration of a quar-
ter of a century, during which the spoiler has not left our cir-
cle unvisited, some of the passages acquire interest, as being
linked by tender associations to the memory of the departed
**It would seem that the ancient Romans had a high respect
for the salubrious properties of this plant, by the interrogative
adage, " Why need any man die, who has Sage in his gar-
Writing this poem turned out to be a very nice way to remember a group of friends. It would have been nice to see the painting that represented their flower bouquet.
Each person of the group was written into the poem by describing them as flowers that shared their characteristics.
For example, a colorful member of the group was compared to the “varied Tulip, versatile and gay”, while someone else was likened to a thornless Rose, who never depressed, contaminated or wounded another soul.
Like the Tulip and Rose, the literary society members were compared to the Lily, Mimosa, Violet, Woodbine, Cowslip, Mountain Daisy, Pink, house-plants, Laurel, Sage, Geranium, Narcissus, Vermonia, English Holly, Lilac and Myrtle.
By the way “Vermonia” most likely refers to “Vernonia“, a genus of shrub-like plants in the Aster Family.
Judging by their floral bouquet, the society must have been an impressive group of people who enjoyed intellectual pursuits.
Once again, I enjoyed the comparision that Mrs. Sigourney makes between people and the flowers that they are most like. It sort of brings the garden alive, doesn’t it?
Come back next Friday for the next installment in our series of flower poems from Mrs. Sigourney’s The Voice of Flowers, “Blossoms Falling From The Fruit-Trees”.