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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
 
At the Potter’s
By Harriet Prescott Spofford (1835–1921)
 
From ‘Titian’s Garden and Other Poems’

THERE were two vases in the sun:
  A bit of common earthenware,
A rude and shapeless jar, was one;
  The other—could a thing more fair
Be made of clay? Blushed not so soft        5
  The almond blossom in the light;
  A lily’s stem was not so slight
With lovely lines that lift aloft
      Pure grace and perfectness full-blown;
And not beneath the finger tip        10
So smooth, or pressed upon the lip,
  The velvet petal of a rose.
  Less fair were some great flower that blows
    In a king’s garden, changed to stone!
 
King’s gardens do not grow such flowers,—        15
  In a dream garden was it blown!
Fine fancies, in long sunny hours,
  Brought it to beauty all its own.
With silent song its shape was wrought
  From dart of wing, from droop of spray,        20
  From colors of the breaking day,
Transfigured in a poet’s thought.
      At last, the finished flower of art—
The dream-flower on its slender stem—
What fierce flames fused it to a gem!        25
  A thousand times its weight in gold
  A prince paid, ere its price was told;
    Then set it on a shelf apart.
 
But through the market’s gentle gloom,
  Crying his ever-fragrant oil,        30
That should anoint the bride in bloom,
  That should the passing soul assoil,
Later the man with attar came,
  And tossed a penny down and poured
  In the rude jar his precious hoard.        35
What perfume, like a subtile flame,
      Sprang through its substance happy-starred!
Whole roses into blossom leapt,
Whole gardens in its warm heart slept!
  Long afterwards, thrown down in haste,        40
  The jar lay, shattered and made waste,
    But sweet to its remotest shard!
 
 
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