Verse > Anthologies > Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. > A Victorian Anthology, 1837–1895
Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. (1833–1908).  A Victorian Anthology, 1837–1895.  1895.
The Black Wall-Flower
Frances Anne Kemble (1809–93)
I FOUND a flower in a desolate plot,
Where no man wrought,—by a deserted cot,
Where no man dwelt; a strange, dark-color’d gem,
Black heavy buds on a pale leafless stem.
I pluck’d it, wondering, and with it hied        5
To my brave May, and showing it I cried:
“Look, what a dismal flower! did ever bloom,
Born of our earth and air, wear such a gloom?
It looks as it should grow out of a tomb:
Is it not mournful?” “No,” replied the child;        10
And, gazing on it thoughtfully, she smil’d.
She knows each word of that great book of God,
Spread out between the blue sky and the sod:
“There are no mournful flowers—they are all glad;
This is a solemn one, but not a sad.”        15
Lo! with the dawn the black buds open’d slowly.
Within each cup a color deep and holy,
As sacrificial blood, glow’d rich and red,
And through the velvet tissue mantling spread;
While in the midst of this dark crimson heat        20
A precious golden heart did throb and beat;
Through ruby leaves the morning light did shine,
Each mournful bud had grown a flow’r divine;
And bitter sweet to senses and to soul,
A breathing came from them, that fill’d the whole        25
Of the surrounding tranced and sunny air
With its strange fragrance, like a silent prayer.
Then cried I, “From the earth’s whole wreath I ’ll borrow
No flower but thee! thou exquisite type of sorrow!”


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