On A Cyclamen

by Henry Alford

Henry Alford

This fragrant plant from sunny Italy,
Plucked by our passing hand, was homeward brought:
Memorial of that favoured clime to be,
And minister sweet food to retrospective thought.

Unchecked in growth, it well repays our care,
Gladdening our cottage with its constant bloom:
By nature prompted, half the varied year;
The other,--gay in honour of its new--found home.

Thick bank, beneath a crumbled mass
Of ancient stone--work, by Piano's lake,
Thy fellows cluster yet, and they who pass
See yet their turbaned flowerets to the breezes shake.

The life of Nature's children, who can tell?
What grand old tales their history may hide,
How world--wide empires by them rose and fell,
Or Caesars trampled o'er them in their legioned pride?

Led by thy scent, perchance, some glorious morn,
Stopped the Cisalpine shepherd as he past,
Built his low hut beneath the sheltering thorn,
And in the doorway sitting, ate his mean repast.

Then a fair garland of his home's own flowers
Culled for the peasant girl he loved the best;
Worn in the first bright day of married hours,
Lapt soft between the hillocks of her panting breast.

So years went on:--that bank his children knew,
Loved the bright rosy tints thy bloom--cups shed,
Oft bathed their limbs in summer's freshest dew
In childhood's naked gambols on thy leafy bed.

Lo, other climes and ways await thee now:
Warm wrapt and weather--fenced our forms pass by:
Safe housed with sheltering glass above thee, thou
Amidst mock summers lift'st to Heaven thy laughing eye.

Play on, thou little fount of blameless joy,
Freshening our souls through many a weary time;
Gladdening the stately hours of high employ,--
As blest in Britain's mists, as erst in happier clime.

Last updated February 10, 2018