The Hollyhocks

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SOME space beyond the garden close
  I sauntered down the shadowed lawn;
It was the hour when sluggards doze,
  The cheerful, zephyr-breathing dawn.
The sun had not yet bathed his face,  
  Dark reddened from the night’s carouse,
When, lo! in festive gypsy grace
  The hollyhocks stood nodding brows.

They shone full bold and debonair—
  That fine, trim band of frolic blades;  
Their ruffles, pinked and purfled fair,
  Flamed with their riotous rainbow shades.
They whispered light each comrade’s ears,
  They flirted with the wooing breeze;
The grassy army’s stanchest spears  
  Rose merely to their stalwart knees!

My heart flushed warm with welcome cheer,
  They were so royal tall to see;
No high-placed rivals need they fear,
  All flowers paid them fealty.  
The haughtiest wild rose standing near
  Their girdles hardly might attain;
They glowed, the courtiers of a year,
  Blithe pages in the Summer’s train!

Their radiance mocked the ruddy morn,  
  So jocund and so saucy free;
Gay vagrants, Flora’s bravest born,
  They brightened all the emerald lea.
I said: “Glad hearts, the crabbed frost
  Will soon your sun-dyed glories blight;  
No evil eye your pride has crossed,
  You know not the designs of night.

“You have not thought that beauty fades;
  It is in vain you bloom so free;
While you are flaunting in the glades  
  The gale may wreck your wanton glee.”
They shook their silken frills in scorn,
  And to my warning seemed to say,
“Dull rhymester, look! ’t is summer morn,
  And round us is the court of Day!

© Craven Langstroth Betts