Verse > Anthologies > The World’s Best Poetry > Vol. V. Nature
Bliss Carman, et al., eds.  The World’s Best Poetry.
Volume V. Nature.  1904.
V. Trees: Flowers: Plants
Hymn to the Flowers
Horace Smith (1779–1849)
DAY-STARS! that ope your frownless eyes to twinkle
  From rainbow galaxies of earth’s creation,
And dew-drops on her lonely altars sprinkle
          As a libation.
Ye matin worshippers! who bending lowly        5
  Before the uprisen sun, God’s lidless eye,
Throw from your chalices a sweet and holy
          Incense on high.
Ye bright mosaics! that with storied beauty
  The floor of Nature’s temple tessellate,        10
What numerous emblems of instructive duty
          Your forms create!
’Neath cloistered boughs, each floral bell that swingeth
  And tolls its perfume on the passing air,
Makes Sabbath in the fields, and ever ringeth        15
          A call to prayer.
Not to the domes where crumbling arch and column
  Attest the feebleness of mortal hand,
But to that fane, most catholic and solemn,
          Which God hath planned;        20
To that cathedral, boundless as our wonder,
  Whose quenchless lamps the sun and moon supply;
Its choir the wings and waves, its organ thunder,
          Its dome the sky.
There, as in solitude and shade I wander        25
  Through the green aisles, or stretched upon the sod,
Awed by the silence, reverently ponder
          The ways of God,
Your voiceless lips, O flowers! are living preachers,
  Each cup a pulpit, every leaf a book,        30
Supplying to my fancy numerous teachers
          From loneliest nook.
Floral apostles! that in dewy splendor
  “Weep without woe, and blush without a crime,”
O, may I deeply learn, and ne’er surrender        35
          Your lore sublime!
“Thou wert not, Solomon, in all thy glory,
  Arrayed,” the lilies cry, “in robes like ours!
How vain your grandeur! ah, how transitory
          Are human flowers!”        40
In the sweet-scented pictures, heavenly artist,
  With which thou paintest Nature’s wide-spread hall,
What a delightful lesson thou impartest
          Of love to all!
Not useless are ye, flowers! though made for pleasure;        45
  Blooming o’er field and wave, by day and night,
From every source your sanction bids me treasure
          Harmless delight.
Ephemeral sages! what instructors hoary
  For such a world of thought could furnish scope?        50
Each fading calyx a memento mori,
          Yet fount of hope.
Posthumous glories! angel-like collection!
  Upraised from seed or bulb interred in earth,
Ye are to me a type of resurrection        55
          And second birth.
Were I in churchless solitudes remaining,
  Far from all voice of teachers and divines,
My soul would find, in flowers of God’s ordaining,
          Priests, sermons, shrines!        60

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