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THE SENSITIVE PLANT.
Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store
Come, months, come away;
Put on white, black, and gray;
Let your light sisters play –
Ye, follow the bier
Of the dead, cold Year,
PERCY BYSSHE SHELLEY.
The Sensitive plant.
A SENSITIVE Plant in a garden grew,
And it opened its fan-like leaves to the light,
And closed them beneath the kisses of night.
And each flower and herb on Earth's dark breast
Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft But none ever trembled and panted with bliss
In the garden, the field, and the wilderness,
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,
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,
Which flung from its bells a sweet peal anew
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 was 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, There was a Power in this sweet place,
And things of obscene and unlovely forms,
She bore in a basket of Indian woof,
Into the rough woods far aloof,
In a basket, of grasses and wild flowers full,
The freshest her gentle hands could pull
For the poor banished insects, whose intent,
Whose path is the lightning's, and soft moths that Tended the garden from morn to even :
kiss And the meteors of that sublunar heaven,
The sweet lips of the flowers, and harm not, did she Like the lamps of the air when night walks forth,
Make her attendant angels be. Laughed round her footsteps up from the Earth!
And many an antenatal tomb,
Where butterflies dream of the life to come,
Edge of the odorous cedar bark.
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
PART THIRD. 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 sod
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,
The dark grass, and the flowers among the grass,
The garden, once fair, became cold and foul,
Swift summer into the autumn flowed,
And agarics and fungi, with mildew and mould And frost in the mist of the morning rode, Started like mist from the wet ground cold; Though the noonday sun looked clear and bright, Pale, fleshy, as if the decaying dead Mocking the spoil of the secret night.
With a spirit of growth had been animated !
The rose leaves, like flakes of crimson now, Their moss rotted off them, flake by flake,
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 Sensitive Plant like one forbid
Were changed to a blight of frozen glue.
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. Between the time of the wind and the snow, For Winter came: the wind was his whip; All loathliest weeds began to grow,
One choppy finger was on his lip: Whose coarse leaves were splashed with many a He had torn the cataracts from the hills, speck,
And they clanked at his girdle like manacles; Like the water-snake's belly and the toad's back.
His breath was a chain which without a sound And thistles, and nettles, and darnels rank, The earth, and the air, and the water bound; And the dock, and henbane, and hemlock dank, He came, fiercely driven, in his chariot-throne Stretched out its long and hollow shank,
By the tenfold blasts of the arctic zone. And stifled the air till the dead wind stank.
Then the weeds which were forms of living And plants, at whose names the verse feels loath, death Filled the place with a monstrous undergrowth, Fled from the frost to the earth beneath. Prickly, and pulpous, and blistering, and blue, Their decay and sudden flight from frost Livid, and starred with a lurid dew.
Was but like the vanishing of a ghost !
A FORSAKEN GARDEN.
A forsaken Garden.
And under the roots of the Sensitive Plant
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.
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,
PERCY BYSSHE SHELLEY.
Not a flower to be pressed of the foot that falls not; As the heart of a dead man the seed-plots are
dry; 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,