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Swiftly the rival plowmen turned the brown earth from
their shares; Here were the farmer's treasures, there were the crafts
man's wares. Golden the good wife's butter, ruby her currant-wine; Grand were the strutting turkeys, fat were the beeves
Yellow and red were the apples, and the ripe pears
russet-brown, And the peaches had stolen blushes from the girls who
shook them down. And with blooms of hill and wild wood, that shame the
toil of art, Mingled the gorgeous blossoms of the garden's tropic
“ What is it I see?” said Keezar: “Am I here, or am I
there? Is it a fête at Bingen? Do I look on Frankfort fair? But where are the clowns and puppets, and imps with
horns and tail ? And where are the Rhenish flagons ? and where is the
“Strange things, I know, will happen — strange things
the Lord permits; But that doughty folk should be jolly puzzles my poor
old wits. Here are smiling manly faces, and the maiden's step
Nor sad by thinking, nor mad by drinking, nor mopes,
nor fools, are they. Here's pleasure without regretting, and good without
abuse, The holiday and the bridal of beauty and of use. “Here's a priest, and there is a Quaker - do the cat
and the dog agree? Have they burned the stocks for oven-wood ? Have
they cut down the gallows-tree? Would the old folk know their children? Would they
own the graceless town, With never a ranter to worry, and never a witch to
Loud laughed the cobbler Keezar, laughed like a school
boy gay ; Tossing his arms above him, the lapstone rolled away; It rolled down the rugged hillside, it spun like a wheel
bewitched; It plunged through the leaning willows, and into the
river pitched. There, in the deep, dark water, the magic stone lies still, Under the leaning willows in the shadow of the hill: And oft the idle fisher sits on the shadowy bank, And his dreams make marvelous pictures where the
wizard's lapstone sank.
And still, in the summer twilights, when the river
seems to run Out from the inner glory, warm with the melted sun,
The weary mill-girl lingers beside the charmed stream, And the sky and the golden water shape and color her
dream. Fair wave the sunset gardens, the rosy signals fly; Her homestead beckons from the cloud, and love goes
John G. WHITTIER.
1. Blessed be he who really loves flowers ! — who loves them for their own sakes, — for their beauty, their associations, the joy they have given, and always will give; so that he would sit down among them as friends and companions, if there were no one else on earth to admire and praise them!
2. But such persons need no blessing of mine. They are blessed of God! Did he not make the world for them ? Are they not clearly the owners of the world, and the richest of all mankind ?
3. He who cannot appreciate floral beauty is to be pitied, like any other man who is born imperfect. It is a misfortune not unlike blindness. But men who contemptuously reject flowers as effeminate and unworthy of manhood reveal a positive coarseness.
4. Many persons lose all enjoyment of many flowers by indulging false associations. There are some who think that no weed can be of interest as a flower. But all flowers are weeds where they grow wildly and
abundantly ; and somewhere our rarest flowers are somebody's commonest.
5. Flowers, growing in noisome places, in desolate corners, upon rubbish, or rank desolation, become disagreeable by association. Roadside flowers, ineradicable and hardy beyond all discouragement, lose themselves, from our sense of delicacy and protection.
6. And, generally, there is a disposition to undervalue common flowers. There are few that will trouble themselves to examine, minutely, a blossom that they have often seen and neglected; and yet if they would but question such flowers, and commune with them, they would often be surprised to find extreme beauty where it had long been overlooked.
7. If a plant is uncouth, it has no attractions to us, simply because it has been brought from the ends of the earth and is a “great rarity.” If it has beauty, it is none the less, but more attractive to us because it is common.
8. A very common flower adds generosity to beauty. It gives joy to the poor, the rude, and to the multitudes that could have no flowers, were Nature to charge a price for her blossoms. Is a cloud less beautiful, or a sea, or a mountain, because often seen, or seen by millions ?
9. The buttercup is a flower of our childhood, and very brilliant in our eyes. Its strong color, seen afar off, often provoked its fate ; for through the mowing lot we went after it, regardless of orchard-grass, and herd-grass, plucking its long, slender stems, crowned
with golden chalices, until the father, covetous of hay, shouted to us, “Out of that grass ! Out of that grass, you rogue!”
10. It is a matter of gratitude, that this finest gift of Providence is the most profusely and liberally bestowed. Flowers cannot be monopolized. The poor can have them as well as the rich; and, as they are messengers of affection, tokens of remembrance, and presents of beauty, of universal acceptance, it is pleasant to think that all men recognize a brief brotherhood in them.
11. It is not impertinent to offer flowers to a stranger. The poorest child can proffer them to the richest. A hundred persons, turned into a meadow full of flowers, would be drawn together in a transient brotherhood.
12. It is affecting to see how serviceable flowers often are to the necessities of the poor. If they bring their lit tle floral gift to you, it cannot but touch your heart to think that their grateful affection longed to express itself as much as yours.
13. You have books, or gems, or services, that you can render as you will. The poor can give but little, and can do but little. Were it not for flowers, they would be shut out from those exquisite pleasures which spring from such gifts. I never take one from a child, or from the poor, without thanking God, in their behalf, for flowers.
14. Then, too, if you cannot give a stone to mark the burial-place of your child, a rose may stand there; and from it you may, every spring, pluck a bud for your bosom, as the child was broken off from you.