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THE SENSITIVE PLANT.
Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?
Come, months, come away; Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find
Put on white, black, and gray; Thee sitting careless on a granary floor,
Let your light sisters play – Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind;
Ye, follow the bier Or on a half-reaped furrow sound asleep,
Of the dead, cold Year, Drowsed with the fume of poppies, while thy hook And make her grave green with tear on tear. Spares the next swath and all its twined
PERCY BYSSHE SHELLEY.
The Sensitive plant.
A SENSITIVE Plant in a garden grew,
And the young winds fed it with silver dew, they
And it opened its fan-like leaves to the light,
And closed them beneath the kisses of night.
And the Spring arose on the garden fair,
And each flower and herb on Earth's dark breast Or sinking, as the light wind lives or dies;
Rose from the dreams of its wintry rest. And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn;
Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft But none ever trembled and panted with bliss The redbreast whistles from a garden-croft,
In the garden, the field, and the wilderness, And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.
Like a doe in the noontide with love's sweet want,
As the companionless Sensitive Plant.
Arose from the ground with warm rain wet,
And their breath was mixed with fresh odor, sent
From the turf, like the voice and the instrument.
And narcissi, the fairest among them all
Who gaze on their eyes in the stream's recess, On the earth, her death-bed, in shroud of leaves dead, Till they die of their own dear loveliness;
And the Naiad-like lily of the vale,
Whom youth makes so fair and passion so pale,
That the light of its tremulous bells is seen
Through their pavilions of tender green;
And the hyacinth purple, and white, and blue, And like dim shadows watch by her sepulchre.
Which flung from its bells a sweet peal anew The chill rain is falling; the nipt worm is crawling; It was felt like an odor within the sense ;
Of music so delicate, soft, and intense,
And the rose like a nymph to the bath addrest, The blithe swallows are flown, and the lizards each which unveiled the depth of her glowing breast, gone
Till, fold after fold, to the fainting air
The soul of her beauty and love lay bare ;
And the wand-like lily, which lifted up,
For the Sensitive Plant has no bright flower; As a Mænad, its moonlight-colored cup,
Radiance and odor are not its dower; Till the fiery star, which is its eye,
It loves, even like Love, its deep heart is full, Gazed through clear dew on the tender sky; It desires what it has not, the Beautiful ! And the jessamine faint, and the sweet tuberose, The light winds which from unsustaining wings The sweetest flower for scent that blows;
Shed the music of many murmurings; And all rare blossoms from every clime
The beams which dart from many a star
Of the flowers whose hues they bear afar;
Over the gleam of the living grass ;
The unseen clouds of the dew, which lie And starry river-buds glimmered by,
Like fire in the flowers till the sun rides high, And around them the soft stream did glide and Then wander like spirits among the spheres, dance
Each cloud faint with the fragrance it bears; With a motion of sweet sound and radiance.
The quivering vapors of dim noontide,
Which like a sea o'er the warm earth glide,
Each and all like ministering angels were
Whilst the lagging hours of the day went by
And when evening descended from Heaven above,
And the Earth was all rest, and the air was all love, And from this undefiled Paradise
And delight, though less bright, was far more deep, The flowers (as an infant's awakening eyes
And the day's veil fell from the world of sleep, Smile on its mother, whose singing sweet Can first lull, and at last must awaken it),
And the beasts, and the birds, and the insects were
drowned When Heaven's blithe winds had unfolded them, In an ocean of dreams without a sound : As mine-lamps enkindle a hidden gem,
Whose waves never mark, though they ever impress Shone smiling to Heaven, and every one
The light sand which paves it, consciousness ; Shared joy in the light of the gentle sun;
(Only over head the sweet nightingale For each one wis interpenetrated
Ever sang more sweet as the day might fail, With the light and the odor its neighbor shed, And snatches of its Elysian chant Like young lovers whom youth and love make dear Were mixed with the dreams of the Sensitive Wrapped and filled by their mutual atmosphere. Plant).
But the Sensitive Plant, which could give small fruit The Sensitive Plant was the earliest of the love which it felt from the leaf to the root, Up-gathered into the bosom of rest; Received more than all, it loved more than ever, A sweet child weary of its delight, Where none wanted but it, could belong to the The feeblest and yet the favorite, giver,
Cradled within the embrace of night.
THE SENSITIVE PLANT.
And all killing insects and gnawing worms,
And things of obscene and unlovely forms,
She bore in a basket of Indian woof, Which to the flowers did they waken or dream,
Into the rough woods far aloof, Was as God is to the starry scheme.
In a basket, of grasses and wild flowers full, A Lady, the wonder of her kind,
The freshest her gentle hands could pull
For the poor banished insects, whose intent,
Whose path is the lightning's, and soft moths that
kiss And the meteors of that sublunar heaven, Like the lamps of the air when night walks forth,
The sweet lips of the flowers, and harm not, did she
Make her attendant angels be. Laughed round her footsteps up from the Earth!
And many an antenatal tomb, She had no companion of mortal race,
Where butterflies dream of the life to come, But her tremulous breath and her flushing face Told, whilst the moon kissed the sleep from her She left clinging round the synooth and dark
Edge of the odorous cedar bark. eyes, That her dreams were less slumber than Paradise : This fairest creature from earliest spring
Thus moved through the garden ministering As if some bright Spirit for her sweet sake
All the sweet season of summer tide, Had deserted heaven while the stars were awake,
And ere the first leaf looked brown — she died ! As if yet around her he lingering were, Though the veil of daylight concealed him from her.
Three days the flowers of the garden fair, Her step seemed to pity the grass it prest;
Like stars when the moon is awakened, were, You might hear by the heaving of her breast, Or the waves of Baiæ, ere luminous That the coming and going of the wind
She floats up through the smoke of Vesuvius. Brought pleasure there and left passion behind.
And on the fourth, the Sensitive Plant And wherever her airy footstep trod,
Felt the sound of the funeral chant, Her trailing hair from the grassy
And the steps of the bearers, heavy and slow, Erased its light vestige, with shadowy sweep, And the sobs of the mourners deep and low; Like a sunny storm o'er the dark green deep.
The weary sound and the heavy breath,
And the smell, cold, oppressive, and dank,
Sent through the pores of the coffin plank; From her glowing fingers through all their frame.
The dark grass, and the flowers among the grass, She sprinkled bright water from the stream Were bright with tears as the crowd did pass; On those that were faint with the sunny beam; From their sighs the wind caught a mournful tone, And out of the cups of the heavy flowers
And sate in the pines, and gave groan for groan. She emptied the rain of the thunder showers.
The garden, once fair, became cold and foul, She lifted their heads with her tender hands, Like the corpse of her who had been its soul, And sustained them with rods and osier bands; Which at first was lively as if in sleep, If the flowers had been her own infants she Then slowly changed, till it grew a heap Could never have nursed them more tenderly.
To make men tremble who never weep.
Swift summer into the autumn flowed,
And agarics and fungi, with mildew and mould
The rose leaves, like flakes of crimson now,
Their moss rotted off them, flake by flake, Paved the turf and the moss below.
Till the thick stalk stuck like a murderer's The lilies were drooping, and white, and wan,
stake, Like the head and the skin of a dying man. Where rags of loose flesh yet tremble on high,
Infecting the winds that wander by.
Spawn, weeds, and filth, a leprous scum,
Made the running rivulet thick and dumb, Were massed into the common clay.
And at its outlet flags huge as stakes
Dammed it up with roots knotted like waterAnd the leaves, brown, yellow, and gray, and
snakes. red, And white with the whiteness of what is dead, And hour by hour, when the air was still, Like troops of ghosts on the dry wind past; The vapors arose which have strength to kill: Their whistling noise made the birds aghast. At morn they were seen, at noon they were felt,
At night they were darkness no star could melt. And the gusty winds waked the winged seeds, Out of their birthplace of ugly weeds,
And unctuous meteors from spray to spray Till they clung round many a sweet flower's Crept and flitted in broad noonday stem,
Unseen ; every branch on which they alit Which rotted into the earth with them.
By a venomous blight was burned and bit. The water-blooms under the rivulet
The Sensitive Plant like one forbid Fell from the stalks on which they were set; Wept, and the tears within each lid And the eddies drove them here and there,
Of its folded leaves which together grew As the winds did those of the upper air.
Were changed to a blight of frozen glue. Then the rain came down, and the broken stalks, For the leaves soon fell, and the branches soon Were bent and tangled across the walks ;
By the heavy axe of the blast were hewn; And the leafless network of parasite bowers The sap shrank to the root through every pore, Massed into ruin; and all sweet flowers.
As blood to a heart that will beat no more.
A FORSAKEN GARDEN.
A Forsaken Garden.
And under the roots of the Sensitive Plant
First there came down a thawing rain,
In a coign of the cliff between lowland and high
land, At the sea-down's edge between windward and
The ghost of a garden fronts the sea.
The steep square slope of the blossomless bed Where the weeds that grew green from the graves of its roses
Now lie dead.
The fields fall southward, abrupt and broken,
To the low last edge of the long lone land. If a step should sound or a word be spoken, Would a ghost not rise at the strange guest's
hand So long have the gray bare walks lain guestless,
Through branches and briers if a man make way, He shall find no life but the sea-wind's, restless
Night and day.
Whether the Sensitive Plant, or that
The dense hard passage is blind and stifled
That crawls by a track none turn to climb To the strait waste place that the years have rifled Of all but the thorns that are touched not of
time. The thorns he spares when the rose is taken ;
The rocks are left when he wastes the plain. The wind that wanders, the weeds wind-shaken,
Not a flower to be pressed of the foot that falls not;
As the heart of a dead man the seed-plots are
It is a modest creed, and yet
PERCY BY9SHE SHELLEY.
From the thicket of thorns whence the nightingale
calls not, Could she call, there were never a rose to reply. Over the meadows that blossom and wither
Rings but the note of a sea-bird's song; Only the sun and the rain come hither
All year long.
The sun burns sere and the rain dishevels
One gaunt bleak blossom of scentless breath. Only the wind here hovers and revels
In a round where life seems barren as death,