On The Purple And White Carnation

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'TWAS a bright May morn, and each opening flower
Lay sunning itself in Flora's bower;
Young Love, who was fluttering round, espied
The blossoms so gay in their painted pride;
And he gazed on the point of a feathered dart,
For mischief had filled the boy-god's heart;
And laughed as his bowstring of silk he drew,
And away that arrow at random flew:
Onward it sped like a ray of light,
And fell on a flower of virgin white,
Which glanced all snowy and pure at the sun,
And wept when his glorious course was run:
Two little drops on its pale leaves lay
Pure as pearls, but with diamond ray,

(Like the tear on Beauty's lid of snow,
Which waits but Compassion to bid it flow
It rested, that dart; and its pointed tip
Sank deep where the bees were wont to sip;
And the sickening flower gazed with grief
On the purple stains which dimmed each leaf,
And the crystal drops on its leaves that stood
Blushed with sorrow and shame till they turned to blood.

It chanced that Flora, wandering by,
Beheld her flow'ret droop and die;
And Love laughed in scorn at the flower-queen's woe,
As she vainly shook its leaves of snow.
Fled from her lip was the smile of light :--
"Oh! who hath worked thee this fell despite!
Thou who did'st harm, alas! to none,
But joyed'st all day in the beams of the sun!"
"'Twas Love!" said the flower, and a scented sigh
Loaded the gale that murmured by.
'Twas Love! and the dew-drops that blushed on the wound
Sank slow and sad to the pitying ground.

"'Twas Love!" said Flora: "accursed be the power
That could blight the bloom of so fair a flower.
With whispers and smiles he wins Beauty's ears,
But he leaves her nothing save grief and tears.
Ye gods! shall he bend with such tyranny still
The weak and the strong to his wanton will?
No! the hearts that he joins may rude discord sever;
Accursed be his power for ever and ever."

She spoke, and wept; and the echo again
Repeated the curse, but all in vain--
The tyrant laughed as he fluttered away,
Spreading his rainbow wings to the day,
And settling at random his feathered darts
To spoil sweet flowers, or break fond hearts.

He fled--and the queen o'er her flower in vain
Poured the evening dew and the April rain,
The purple spots on her heart still were.
And she said, as she wept her fruitless care,
"The blight and the stain may be washed away,
But what Love hath ruined must sink in decay."

And she sent it on earth, to dwell below
In the autumn fog and the winter snow.
And even, 'tis said, on summer eves
O'er that sad lost flower she wails and grieves;
And the drops that by mortals as dew are seen
Are the tears of the mourning flower-queen.

And when men are gazing with fond delight
On its varied leaves, and call them bright,
And praise the velvet tints, and say
There never was flower more pure and gay:
That flow'ret says, as it droops its head,
"Alas! for the day when by love I bled;
When my feathery flowers were pure and white,
And my leaves had no earthly stain or blight,
When no chilling blasts around me blew,
And in Flora's garden of light I grew.
Oh! the blight and the stain may be washed away,
But what Love hath ruined must sink in decay."

© Caroline Norton