Verse > Anthologies > Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. > An American Anthology, 1787–1900
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Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. (1833–1908).  An American Anthology, 1787–1900.  1900.
 
250. After a Lecture on Keats
 
By Oliver Wendell Holmes
 
 
“Purpureos spargam flores.”
 
 
THE WREATH that star-crowned Shelley gave
Is lying on thy Roman grave,
Yet on its turf young April sets
Her store of slender violets;
Though all the Gods their garlands shower,        5
I too may bring one purple flower.
Alas! what blossom shall I bring,
That opens in my Northern spring?
The garden beds have all run wild,
So trim when I was yet a child;        10
Flat plantains and unseemly stalks
Have crept across the gravel walks;
The vines are dead, long, long ago,
The almond buds no longer blow.
No more upon its mound I see        15
The azure, plume-bound fleur-de-lis;
Where once the tulips used to show,
In straggling tufts the pansies grow;
The grass has quenched my white-rayed gem,
The flowering “Star of Bethlehem,”        20
Though its long blade of glossy green
And pallid stripe may still be seen.
Nature, who trends her nobles down,
And gives their birthright to the clown,
Has sown her base-born weedy things        25
Above the garden’s queens and kings.
Yet one sweet flower of ancient race
Springs in the old familiar place.
When snows were melting down the vale,
And Earth unlaced her icy mail,        30
And March his stormy trumpet blew,
And tender green came peeping through,
I loved the earliest one to seek
That broke the soil with emerald beak,
And watch the trembling bells so blue        35
Spread on the column as it grew.
Meek child of earth! thou wilt not shame
The sweet, dead poet’s holy name;
The God of music gave thee birth,
Called from the crimson-spotted earth,        40
Where, sobbing his young life away,
His own fair Hyacinthus lay.
The hyacinth my garden gave
Shall lie upon that Roman grave!
 

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