Verse > Anthologies > Samuel Kettell, ed. > Specimens of American Poetry
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Samuel Kettell, ed.  Specimens of American Poetry.  1829.
 
Flora’s Party
By Lydia H. Sigourney (1791–1865)
 
LADY FLORA gave cards for a party at tea,
To flowers, buds, and blossoms of every degree;
So from town and from country they throng’d at the call,
And strove by their charms to embellish the hall.
First came the exotics, with ornaments rare,        5
The tall Miss Corcoris, and Cyclamen fair,
Auricula splendid, with jewels new-set,
And gay Polyanthus, the pretty coquette.
The Tulips came flaunting in gaudy array,
With the Hyacinths, bright as the eye of the day;        10
Dandy Coxcombs and Daffodils, rich and polite,
With their dazzling new vests, and their corsets laced light;
While the Soldiers in Green, cavalierly attired,
Were all by the ladies extremely admired.
But prudish Miss Lily, with bosom of snow,        15
Declared that “those gentlemen stared at her so,
It was horribly rude,”—so retired in a fright,
And scarce stay’d to bid lady Flora good night.
There were Myrtles and Roses from garden and plain,
And Venus’s Fly-Trap they brought in their train,        20
So the beaux throng’d around them, they scarcely knew why,
At the smile of the lip, or the glance of the eye.
Madam Damask complain’d of her household and care,
That she seldom went out save to breathe the fresh air,
There were so many young ones and servants to stray,        25
And the thorns grew so fast, if her eye was away.
“Neighbor Moss-Rose,” said she, “you who live like a queen,
And ne’er wet your fingers, don’t know what I mean.”
So the notable lady went on with her lay,
Till her auditors yawn’d, or stole softly away.        30
The sweet Misses Woodbine from country and town,
With their brother in law, the wild Trumpet, came down,
And Lupine, whose azure eye sparkled with dew,
On Amaranth lean’d, the unchanging and true;
While modest Clematis appear’d as a bride,        35
And her husband, the Lilac, ne’er moved from her side,
Though the belles giggled loudly, and said, “’T was a shame
For a young married chit such attention to claim;
They never attended a route in their life,
Where a city-bred man ever spoke to his wife.”        40
Miss Piony came in quite late, in a heat,
With the Ice-Plant, new spangled from forehead to feet;
Lobelia, attired like a queen in her pride,
And the Dalias, with trimmings new furnish’d and dyed,
And the Blue-bells and Hare-bells, in simple array,        45
With all their Scotch cousins from highland and braé.
Ragged Ladies and Marigolds cluster’d together,
And gossip’d of scandal, the news and the weather;
What dresses were worn at the wedding so fine
Of sharp Mr Thistle, and sweet Columbine;        50
Of the loves of Sweet-William and Lily the prude,
Till the clamors of Babel again seem’d renew’d.
In a snug little nook sate the Jessamine pale,
And that pure, fragrant Lily, the gem of the vale;
The meek Mountain-Daisy, with delicate crest,        55
And the Violet, whose eye told the heaven in her breast;
And allured to their group were the wise ones, who bow’d
To that virtue which seeks not the praise of the crowd.
But the proud Crown Imperial, who wept in her heart,
That their modesty gain’d of such homage a part,        60
Look’d haughtily down on their innocent mien,
And spread out her gown that they might not be seen.
The bright Lady-Slippers and Sweet-Briars agreed
With their slim cousin Aspens a measure to lead;
And sweet ’t was to see their bright footsteps advance,        65
Like the wing of the breeze through the maze of the dance.
But the Monk’s-Hood scowl’d dark, and, in utterance low,
Declared “’t was high time for good christians to go;
He ’d heard from his parson a sermon sublime,
Where he proved from the Vulgate, to dance was a crime.”        70
So, folding the cowl round his cynical head,
He took from the sideboard a bumper, and fled.
A song was desired, but each musical flower
Had “taken a cold, and ’t was out of her power;”
Till sufficiently urged, they broke forth in a strain        75
Of quavers and trills that astonish’d the train.
Mimosa sat trembling, and said, with a sigh,
“’T was so fine, she was ready with rapture to die.”
And Cactus, the grammar-school tutor, declared
“It might be with the gamut of Orpheus compared;        80
Then moved himself round in a comical way,
To show how the trees once had frisk’d at the lay.
Yet Night-Shade, the metaphysician, complain’d,
That the nerves of his ears were excessively pain’d;
“’T was but seldom he crept from the college,” he said,        85
“And he wish’d himself safe in his study or bed.”
There were pictures, whose splendor illumined the place
Which Flora had finish’d with exquisite grace;
She had dipp’d her free pencil in Nature’s pure dyes,
And Aurora retouch’d with fresh purple the skies.        90
So the grave connoisseurs hasted near them to draw,
Their knowledge to show, by detecting a flaw.
The Carnation took her eye-glass from her waist,
And pronounced they were “not in good keeping or taste;”
While prim Fleur de Lis, in her robe of French silk,        95
And magnificent Calla, with mantle like milk,
Of the Louvre recited a wonderful tale,
And said “Guido’s rich tints made dame Nature turn pale.”
The Snow-Ball assented, and ventured to add
His opinion, that “all Nature’s coloring was bad;”        100
He had thought so, e’er since a few days he had spent
To study the paintings of Rome, as he went
To visit his uncle Gentiana, who chose
His abode on the Alps, ’mid a palace of snows.
But he took on Mont Blanc such a terrible chill,        105
That ever since that he ’d been pallid and ill.”
Half wither’d Miss Hackmatack bought a new glass,
And thought with her nieces, the Spruces, to pass;
But bachelor Holly, who spy’d her out late,
Destroy’d all her plans by a hint at her date.        110
So she pursed up her mouth, and said tartly, with scorn,
“She could not remember before she was born.”
Old Jonquil, the crooked-back’d beau, had been told
That a tax would be laid upon bachelor’s gold;
So he bought a new coat, and determined to try        115
The long disused armor of Cupid so sly;
Sought for half-open’d buds in their infantine years,
And ogled them all, till they blush’d to their ears.
Philosopher Sage on a sofa was prosing.
With dull Dr Chamomile quietly dozing;        120
Though the Laurel descanted, with eloquent breath,
Of heroes and battles, of victory and death,
Of the conquests of Greece, and Bozzaris the brave,
“He had trod in his steps, and had sigh’d o’er his grave.”
Farmer Sun-Flower was near, and decidedly spake        125
Of “the poultry he fed, and the oil he might make;”
For the true hearted soul deem’d a weather-stain’d face,
And a toil-harden’d hand were no marks of disgrace.
Then he beckon’d his nieces to rise from their seat,
The plump Dandelion, and Cowslip so neat,        130
And bade them to “pack up their duds and away,
For the cocks crow’d so loud ’t was the break o’ the day.”
—’T was indeed very late, and the coaches were brought,
For the grave matron flowers of their nurseries thought;
The lustre was dimm’d of each drapery rare,        135
And the lucid young brows look’d beclouded with care;
All save the bright Cereus, that belle so divine,
Who joy’d through the curtains of midnight to shine.
Now they curtsey’d and bow’d as they moved to the door,
But the Poppy snored loud ere the parting was o’er,        140
For Night her last candle was snuffing away,
And Flora grew tired though she begg’d them to stay;
Exclaim’d, “all the watches and clocks were too fast,
And old Time ran in spite, lest her pleasures should last.”
But when the last guest went, with daughter and wife,        145
She vow’d she “was never so glad in her life;”
Call’d out to her maids, who with weariness wept,
To “wash all the glasses and cups ere they slept;”
For “Aurora,” she said, “with her broad staring eye,
Would be pleased, in the house, some disorder to spy;”        150
Then sipp’d some pure honey-dew, fresh from the lawn,
And with Zephyrus hasted to sleep until dawn.
 
 
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