Verse > John Greenleaf Whittier > The Poetical Works in Four Volumes
John Greenleaf Whittier (1807–1892).  The Poetical Works in Four Volumes.  1892.
Occasional Poems
Winter Roses
          In reply to a flower gift from Mrs. Putnam’s school at Jamaica Plain.

MY garden roses long ago
  Have perished from the leaf-strewn walks;
Their pale, fair sisters smile no more
  Upon the sweet-brier stalks.
Gone with the flower-time of my life,        5
  Spring’s violets, summer’s blooming pride,
And Nature’s winter and my own
  Stand, flowerless, side by side.
So might I yesterday have sung;
  To-day, in bleak December’s noon,        10
Come sweetest fragrance, shapes, and hues,
  The rosy wealth of June!
Bless the young hands that culled the gift,
  And bless the hearts that prompted it;
If undeserved it comes, at least        15
  It seems not all unfit.
Of old my Quaker ancestors
  Had gifts of forty stripes save one;
To-day as many roses crown
  The gray head of their son.        20
And with them, to my fancy’s eye,
  The fresh-faced givers smiling come,
And nine and thirty happy girls
  Make glad a lonely room.
They bring the atmosphere of youth;        25
  The light and warmth of long ago
Are in my heart, and on my cheek
  The airs of morning blow.
O buds of girlhood, yet unblown,
  And fairer than the gift ye chose,        30
For you may years like leaves unfold
  The heart of Sharon’s rose!


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