Dear friend, love well the flowers !  Flowers are
the sign
Of Earth’s all gentle love, her grace, her youth,2
Her endless, matchless, tender gratitude.3
When the Sun smiles on thee,—why thou art glad :4
But when on Earth he smileth, She bursts forth5
In beauty like a bride, and gives him back,6
In sweet repayment for his warm bright love,7
A world of flowers. You may see them born8
On any day in April, moist or dry,9
As bright as are the Heavens that look on them :10
Some sown like stars upon the greensward ; some11
As yellow as the sunrise ; others red12
As Day is when he sets ; reflecting thus,13
In pretty moods, the bounties of the sky.14
And now, of all fair flowers, which lovest thou
best ?
The Rose ?  She is a queen, more wonderful16
Than any who have bloomed on Orient thrones :17
Sabæan Empress ! in her breast, though small,18
Beauty and infinite sweetness sweetly dwell,19
Inextricable. Or dost dare prefer20
The Woodbine, for her fragrant summer breath ?21
Or Primrose, who doth haunt the hours of Spring,22
A wood-nymph brightening places lone and green ?23
Or Cowslip ? or the virgin Violet,24
That nun, who, nestling in her cell of leaves,25
Shrinks from the world, in vain ?26
Yet, wherefore choose, when Nature doth not
Our mistress, our preceptress ? She brings forth28
Her brood with equal care, loves all alike,29
And to the meanest as the greatest yields30
Her sunny splendours and her fruitful rains.31
Love all flowers, then. Be sure that wisdom lies32
In every leaf and bloom ; o’er hills and dales ;33
And thy my mountains ; sylvan solitudes,34
Where sweet-voiced waters sing the long year
through ;
In every haunt beneath the Eternal Sun,36
Where Youth or Age sends forth its grateful prayer,37
Or thoughtful Meditation deigns to stray.38