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THE SENSITIVE PLANT.

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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.
flowers;
And sometime like a gleaner thou dost keep
Steady thy laden head across a brook;

The Sensitive plant.
Or by a cider-press, with patient look,
Thou watchest the last oozings, hours by hours.

PART FIRST.
Where are the songs of Spring 9 Ay, where are And the young winds fed it with silver dew,

A SENSITIVE Plant in a garden grew,
they!
Think not of them — thou hast thy music too:

And it opened its fan-like leaves to the light,
While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day,

And closed them beneath the kisses of night.
And touch the stubble-plains with rosy hue : * And the Spring arose on the garden fair,
Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn Like the Spirit of Love felt everywhere;
Among the river sallows, borne aloft

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,
JOHN KEATS.

As the companionless Sensitive Plant.
The snowdrop, and then the violet,

Arose from the ground with warm rain wet,
Autumn-a Wirge.

And their breath was mixed with fresh odor, sent

From the turf, like the voice and the instrument.
The warm sun is failing; the bleak wind is wailing;
The bare boughs are sighing; the pale flowers are Then the pied windflowers and the tulip tall,
dying;

And narcissi, the fairest among them all
And the Year

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 ;

Is lying.
Come, months, come away,

And the Naiad-like lily of the vale,
From November to May;

Whom youth makes so fair and passion so pale,
In your saddest array

That the light of its tremulous bells is seen
Follow the bier

Through their pavilions of tender green;
Of the dead, cold Year,

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,
The rivers are swelling; the thunder is knelling
For the Year;

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
To his dwelling;

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
Grew in that garden in perfect prime.

of the flowers whose hues they bear afar;
And on the stream whose inconstant bosom The plumed insects swift and free,
Was prankt under boughs of embowering blossom, Like golden boats on a sunny sea,
With golden and green light, slanting through Laden with light and odor, which pass
Their heaven of many a tangled hue,

Over the gleam of the living grass;
Broad water-lilies lay tremulously,

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,
And the sinuous paths of lawn and moss,

Which like a sea o'er the warm earth glide,
Which led through the garden along and across, In which every sound, and odor, and beam,
Some open at once to the sun and the breeze, Move, as reeds in a single stream;
Some lost among bowers of blossoming trees,

Each and all like ministering angels were
Were all paved with daisies and delicate bells For the Sensitive Plant sweet joy to bear,
As fair as the fabulous asphodels,

Whilst the lagging hours of the day went by
And flowrets which drooping as day drooped too Like windless clouds o'er a tender sky.
Fell into pavilions, white, purple, and blue,
To roof the glowworm from the evening dew.

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.

89

PART SECOND.

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,
An Eve in this Eden; a ruling grace
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,

The freshest her gentle hands could pull
A Lady, the wonder of her kind,
Whose form was upborne by a lovely mind

For the poor banished insects, whose intent,
Which, dilating, had moulded her mien and motion. Although they did ill, was innocent.
Like a sea-flower unfolded beneath the ocean, But the bee and the beamlike ephemeris

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,
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 smooth 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

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,
I doubt not the flowers of that garden sweet And the silent motions of passing death,
Rejoiced in the sound of her gentle feet;

And the smell, cold, oppressive, and dank,
I doubt not they felt the spirit that came 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 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,
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.
And Indian plants, of scent and hue
The sweetest that ever were fed on dew,

Spawn, weeds, and filth, a leprous scum,
Leaf after leaf, day after day,

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. 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.

91

A forsaken Garden.

And under the roots of the Sensitive Plant
The moles and the dormice died for want:
The birds dropped stiff from the frozen air
And were caught in the branches naked and bare.
First there came down a thawing rain,
And its dull drops froze on the boughs again,
Then there steamed up a freezing dew
Which to the drops of the thaw-rain grew;
And a northern whirlwind, wandering about
Like a wolf that had smelt a dead child out,
Shook the boughs thus laden, and heavy and stiff,
And snapped them off with his rigid griff.
When Winter had gone and Spring came back,
The Sensitive Plant was a leafless wreck;
But the mandrakes, and toadstools, and docks, and

darnels,
Rose like the dead from their ruined charnels.

In a coign of the cliff between lowland and high

land, At the sea-down's edge between windward and

lee,
Walled round with rocks as an inland island,

The ghost of a garden fronts the sea.
A girdle of brushwood and thorn encloses

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,

These remain.

CONCLUSION.
Whether the Sensitive Plant, or that
Which within its boughs like a spirit sat
Ere its outward form had known decay,
Now felt this change, I cannot say.
Whether that lady's gentle mind,
No longer with the form combined
Which scattered love, as stars do light,
Found sadness, where it left delight,
I dare not guess; but in this life
Of error, ignorance, and strife,
Where nothing is, but all things seem,
And we the shadows of the dream,
It is a modest creed, and yet
Pleasant if one considers it,
To own that death itself must be,
Like all the rest, a mockery.
That garden sweet, that lady fair,
And all sweet shapes and odors there,
In truth have never passed away:
"Tis we, 'tis ours, are changed; not they.
For love, and beauty, and delight,
There is no death nor change: their might
Exceeds our organs, which endure
No light, being themselves obscure.

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,

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