Verse > Rudyard Kipling > Verse: 1885–1918
Rudyard Kipling (1865–1936).  Verse: 1885–1918.  1922.
The Flowers

   “To our private taste, there is always something a little exotic, almost artificial, in songs which, under an English aspect and dress, are yet so manifestly the product of other skies. They affect us like translations; the very fauna and flora are alien, remote; the dog’s-tooth violet is but an ill substitute for the rathe primrose, nor can we ever believe that the wood-robin sings as sweetly in April as the English thrush.”

          BUY my English posies!
            Kent and Surrey may
          Violets of the Undercliff
            Wet with Channel spray;
          Cowslips from a Devon combe        5
            Midland furze afire
          Buy my English posies
            And I’ll sell your heart’s desire!
          Buy my English posies!
            You that scorn the May,        10
          Won’t you greet a friend from home
            Half the world away?
          Green against the draggled drift,
            Faint and frail and first—
          Buy my Northern blood-root        15
            And I’ll know where you were nursed!
Robin down the logging-road whistles, “Come to me!”
Spring has found the maple-grove, the sap is running free.
All the winds of Canada call the ploughing-rain.
Take the flower and turn the hour, and kiss your love again!        20
          Buy my English posies!
            Here’s to match your need—
          Buy a tuft of royal heath,
            Buy a bunch of weed
          White as sand of Muisenberg        25
            Spun before the gale—
          Buy my heath and lilies
            And I’ll tell you whence you hail!
Under hot Constantia broad the vineyards lie—
Throned and thorned the aching berg props the speckless sky—        30
Slow below the Wynberg firs trails the tilted wain—
Take the flower and turn the hour, and kiss your love again!
          Buy my English posies!
            You that will not turn—
          Buy my hot-wood clematis,        35
            Buy a frond o’ fern
          Gathered where the Erskine leaps
            Down the road to Lorne—
          Buy my Christmas creeper
            And I’ll say where you were born!        40
West away from Melbourne dust holidays begin—
They that mock at Paradise woo at Cora Lynn—
Through the great South Otway gums sings the great South Main—
Take the flower and turn the hour, and kiss your love again!
          Buy my English posies!        45
            Here’s your choice unsold!
          Buy a blood-red myrtle-bloom,
            Buy the kowhai’s gold
          Flung for gift on Taupo’s face,
            Sign that spring is come—        50
          Buy my clinging myrtle
            And I’ll give you back your home!
Broom behind the windy town, pollen of the pine—
Bell-bird in the leafy deep where the ratas twine—
Fern above the saddle-bow, flax upon the plain—        55
Take the flower and turn the hour, and kiss your love again!
          Buy my English posies!
            Ye that have your own
          Buy them for a brother’s sake
            Overseas, alone!        60
          Weed ye trample underfoot
            Floods his heart abrim—
          Bird ye never heeded,
            Oh, she calls his dead to him!
Far and far our homes are set round the Seven Seas;        65
Woe for us if we forget, we who hold by these!
Unto each his mother-beach, bloom and bird and land—
Masters of the Seven Seas, oh, love and understand!

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