Verse > Anthologies > Alfred H. Miles, ed. > Women Poets of the Nineteenth Century
Alfred H. Miles, ed.  Women Poets of the Nineteenth Century.  1907.
Leaves of Life (1888)
I. Winter Violets
By Edith (Nesbit) Bland (1858–1924)
To M. O.

DEATH-WHITE azaleas watched beside my bed,
  And tried to tell me tales of Southern lands;
But they in hothouse air were born and bred,
  And they were gathered by a stranger’s hands:
They were not sweet, they never had been free,        5
And all their pallid beauty had no voice for me.
And all I longed for was one common flower
  Fed by soft mists and rainy English air,
A flower that knew the woods, the leafless bower,
  The wet, green moss, the hedges sharp and bare—        10
A flower that spoke my language, and could tell
Of all the woods and ways my heart remembers well.
Then came your violets—and at once I heard
  The sparrows chatter on the dripping eaves,
The full stream’s babbling inarticulate word,        15
  The plash of rain on big wet ivy-leaves;
I saw the woods where thick the dead leaves lie,
And smelt the fresh earth’s scent—the scent of memory.
The unleafed trees—the lichens green and gray,
  The wide sad-coloured meadows, and the brown        20
Fields that sleep now, and dream of harvest day,
  Hiding their seeds like hopes in hearts pent down—
A thousand dreams, a thousand memories
Your violets’ voices breathed in unheard melodies—
Unheard by all but me. I heard, I blessed        25
  The little English, English-speaking things
For their sweet selves that laid my wish to rest,
  For their sweet help that lent my dreaming wings;
And, most of all, for all the thoughts of you
Which make them smell more sweet than other violets do.        30

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