Verse > Anthologies > Sara Teasdale, ed. > The Answering Voice
Sara Teasdale, comp. (1884–1933).
The Answering Voice: One Hundred Love Lyrics by Women.  1917.
By Margaret Widdemer
Carnations and my first love! And he was seventeen,
And I was only twelve years—a stately gulf between!
I broke them on the morning the school-dance was to be,
To pin among my ribbons in hopes that he might see….
And all the girls stood breathless to watch as he came through        5
With curly crest and grand air that swept the heart from you!
And why he paused at my side is more than I can know—
Shyest of the small girls who all adored him so—
I said it with my prayer-times: I walked with head held high:
“Carnations are your flower!” he said as he strode by.        10
Carnations and my first love! The years are passed a score,
And I recall his first name, and scarce an eyelash more….
And those were all the love-words that either of us said—
Perhaps he may be married—perhaps he may be dead.
And yet,… to smell carnations, their spicy, heavy sweet,        15
Perfuming all some sick-room, or passing on the street,
Then … still the school-lamps flicker, and still the Lancers play,
And still the girls hold breathless to watch him go his way,
And still my child-heart quivers with that first ecstasy—
“Carnations are your flower!” my first love says to me!        20

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