Bush Ballads & Galloping Rhymes

A Basket of Flowers

from Dawn to Dusk

Adam Lindsay Gordon


ON SKIES still and starlit
    White lustres take hold,
And grey flushes scarlet,
    And red flashes gold.
And sun-glories cover
The rose shed above her,
Like lover and lover
    They flame and unfold.

.     .     .     .     .

Still bloom in the garden
    Green grass-plot, fresh lawn,
Though pasture lands harden
    And drought fissures yawn.
While leaves not a few fall,
Let rose leaves for you fall,
Leaves pearl-strung with dew-fall,
    And gold shot with dawn.

Does the grass-plot remember
    The fall of your feet
In autumn’s red ember,
    When drought leagues with heat,
When the last of the roses
Despairingly closes
In the lull that reposes
    Ere storm winds wax fleet?

Love’s melodies languish
    In “Chastelard’s” strain,
And “Abelard’s” anguish
    Is love’s pleasant pain!
And “Sappho” rehearses
Love’s blessings and curses
In passionate verses
    Again and again.

And I!—I have heard of
    All these long ago,
Yet never one word of
    Their song-lore I know;
Not under my finger
In songs of the singer
Love’s litanies linger,
    Love’s rhapsodies flow.

Fresh flowers in a basket—
    An offering to you—
Though you did not ask it,
    Unbidden I strew;
With heat and drought striving,
Some blossoms still living
May render thanksgiving
    For dawn and for dew.

The garlands I gather,
    The rhymes I string fast,
Are hurriedly rather
    Than heedlessly cast.
Yon tree’s shady awning
Is short’ning, and warning
Far spent is the morning,
    And I must ride fast.

Songs empty, yet airy,
    I’ve striven to write,
For failure, dear Mary!
    Forgive me—Good-night!
Songs and flowers may beset you,
I can only regret you,
While the soil where I met you
    Recedes from my sight.

For the sake of past hours,
    For the love of old times,
Take “A Basket of Flowers”,
    And a bundle of rhymes;
Though all the bloom perish
E’en YOUR hand can cherish,
While churlish and bearish
    The verse-jingle chimes.

And Eastward by Nor’ward
    Looms sadly my track,
And I must ride forward,
    And still I look back,—
Look back—ah, how vainly!
For while I see plainly,
My hands on the reins lie
    Uncertain and slack.

The warm wind breathes strong breath,
    The dust dims mine eye,
And I draw one long breath,
    And stifle one sigh.
Green slopes, softly shaded,
Have flitted and faded—
My dreams flit as they did—

.     .     .     .     .


Lost rose! end my story!
    Dead core and dry husk—
Departed thy glory
    And tainted thy musk.
Night spreads her dark limbs on
The face of the dim sun,
So flame fades to crimson
    And crimson to dusk.

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