The Old-Fashioned Garden
The house is hoary with the mould of years,
And crumbling are its ivy-covered walls;
The rain-storms dim it with their misty tears,
And sadly o'er its gloom the sunlight falls.
Ah, different far the sweet old garden there,
For balmy rains and warming suns but make it glow
more fair. 
So bright and lovely is the dear old place,
It seems as though the country's very heart
Were centered here, and that its antique grace
Must ever hold it from the world apart.
Immured it lies among the meadows deep,
Its flowery stillness beautiful and calm as softest
sleep. 
Some like a garden where the hand of art
Appears in every terrace, walk, and bed,
Where vases stand in even rows apart
And shrubs are taught symmetric shade to spread:
But little art I wish; enough for me
This garden where the flowers grow in sweet
simplicity. 
Fair is each budding thing the garden shows,
From spring's frail crocus to the latest bloom
Of fading autumn. Every wind that blows
Across that glowing tract sips rare perfume
From all the tangled blossoms tossing there;
Soft winds, they fain would linger long, nor any
farther fare! 
The morning-glories ripple o'er the hedge
And fleck its greenness with their tinted foam;
Sweet wilding things, up to the garden's edge
They love to wander from their meadow home,
To take what little pleasure here they may
Ere all their silken trumpets close before the warm
mid-day. 
The larkspur lifts on high its azure spires,
And up the arbor's lattices are rolled
The quaint nasturtium's many-colored fires;
The tall carnation's breast of faded gold
Is striped with many a faintly-flushing streak,
Pale as the tender tints that blush upon a baby's
cheek. 
The old sweet-rocket sheds its fine perfumes;
With golden stars the coreopsis flames;
And here are scores of sweet old-fashioned blooms
Dear for the very fragrance of their names,
Poppies and gillyflowers and four-o'clocks,
Cowslips and candytuft and heliotrope and
hollyhocks, 
Harebells and peonies and dragon-head,
Petunias, scarlet sage and bergamot,
Verbenas, ragged-robins, soft gold-thread,
The bright primrose and pale forget-me-not,
Wall-flowers and crocuses and columbines,
Narcissus, asters, hyacinths, and honeysuckle
vines, 
Foxgloves and marigolds and mignonette,
Dahlias and lavender and damask rose.
O dear old flowers, ye are blooming yet,
Each year afresh your lovely radiance glows:
But where are they who saw your beauty's dawn?
Ah, with the flowers of other years they long ago
have gone! 
They long have gone, but ye are still as fair
As when the brides of eighty years ago
Plucked your soft roses for their waving hair,
And blossoms o'er their bridal-veils to strow.
Alas, your myrtle on a later day
Marked those low mounds where 'neath the willows'
shade at last they lay! 
Beside the walk the drowsy poppies sway,
More deep of hue than is the reddest rose,
And dreamy-warm as summer's midmost day.
Proud, languorous queens of slumberous repose
Within their little chalices they keep
The mystic witchery that brings mild, purple-lidded
sleep. 
Drowse on, soft flowers of quiet afternoons,
The breezes sleep beneath your lulling spell;
In dreamy silence all the garden swoons,
Save where the lily's aromatic bell
Is murmurous with one low-humming bee,
As oozy honey-drops are pilfered by that filcher
wee. 
The poets' flower, the pale narcissus, droops
Like that lorn youth beside the fountain's brink;
Aslumber are the phlox's purple troops,
And every musky rose and spicy pink;
Asleep the snowdrop's tiny milken spheres,
And all the fuchsia's little white and crimson
chandeliers. 
A sweet seclusion this of sun and shade,
A calm asylum from the busy world,
Where greed and restless care do ne'er invade,
Nor news of 'change and mart each morning whirled
Round half the globe; no noise of party feud
Disturbs this peaceful spot nor mars its perfect
quietude. 
But summer after summer comes and goes,
And leaves the garden ever fresh and fair;
May brings the tulip, golden June the rose,
And August winds shake down the mellow pear.
Man blooms and blossoms, fades and disappears,
But scarce a tribute pays the garden to the passing
years. 
Nay, time has served but to enhance its charms,
And for a century the folk have blest
This glowing isle amid their sea of farms,
On which 'tis sweet the tired eyes to rest.
O'er all the land its flowery spell is cast,
A fragrant chain that links the present with the
misty past. 
And here the daffodils still yield their gold,
And hollyhocks display their satin wheels,
The soft harebells as in the days of old
Ring out their carillon of fairy peals,
And dandelion-balls nod o'er the grass
And give from out their fluffy store to all the winds
that pass. 
The droning bees still sip ambrosial dew
Within the spiral foxglove's purple tents;
Emboldened by the poppy's angry hue,
Sweet-williams hold their little parliaments,
Discussing in a silken undertone
The mullein's insolence for that, from fields plebeian
blown, 
He dares to flaunt his vulgar woollen face
Among the garden's aristocracy.
Long nurtured in this rare and cloistered place,
These gentles hold themselves of high degree,
Disdaining as a common, low-born weed
Each wilding bloom that traces not his line from
ancient seed. 
O fair the larkspur's slender tufts of blue,
And fair the saffron-kirtled columbine;
Fair is the lily from whose luscious dew
The elfin-folk distil their honeyed wine.
The flags are fair, and fair the flowers that ope
And spread the sweet, old-fashioned redolence of
heliotrope. 
Fair is the sweet-pea's witching little face,
And fair the dodder's reels of amber thread;
Fair is the slim brocade of dainty lace
The sweet alyssum weaves along each bed.
All, all is fair within the garden's bound;
No sweeter or more lovely spot, I ween, could e'er
be found. 
And here, methinks, might poet-lovers' sighs
Chime with their ladies' sweetly winsome talk,
Here Astrophel adore his Stella's eyes,
And Waller with his Saccharissa walk,
Or Herrick frame a flowery verse to please
His silken-bod iced Julia here beneath the cherry-
trees. 
Ah, Herrick, what a sunny charm is thine,
Rare laureate-singer of the lovely flowers!
Across thy page the rosy garlands twine,
And dewy April melts in fragrant showers
Of cloudy blossoms, pink and white and red,
And May-Day maidens weave a wreath to crown
their Poet's head. 
O sweet old English gardens, he is gone,
Green Devon lanes, ye know his face no more;
But long as dew-kissed buds shall wake at dawn
And daffodils sway by the grassy shore,
So long will Herrick's floral music sound,
And Memory's greenest tendrils climb to wreathe
his name around. 
And here on dreamy August afternoons
I love to pore upon his golden book;
And here among the roses that are June's,
On some green bench within a bowery nook,
Where rosy petal-drift may strew the page,
Tis sweet to read the pensive numbers of old Persia's 
Omar Khayydm, the wisest of the wise.
Ah, now in balmy Naishdpiir he sleeps
These almost thousand years; and where he lies
His well-loved rose each spring her petals weeps.
Of what may be hereafter no man knows,
Then let us live to-day, he cried, as lives the lovely
rose! 
O stately roses, yellow, white, and red,
As Omar loved you, so we love to-day.
Some roses with the vanished years have sped,
And some our mothers' mothers laid away
Among their bridal-gowns' soft silken folds,
Where each pale petal for their sons a precious
memory holds. 
And some we find among the yellowed leaves
Of slender albums, once the parlor's pride,
Where faint-traced ivy pattern interweaves
The mottoes over which the maiden sighed.
O faded roses, did they match your red,
Those fair young cheeks whose color long ago with
yours has fled? 
And still doth balmy June bring many a rose
To crown the happy garden's loveliness.
Against the house the old sweet-brier grows
And cheers its sadness with soft, warm caress,
As fragrant yet as in the far-off time
When that old mansion's fairest mistress taught its
shoots to climb. 
Enveloped in their tufted velvet coats
The sweet, poetical moss-roses dream;
And petal after petal softly floats
From where the tea-rose spreads her fawn
and cream,
Like fairy barks on tides of air they flow,
And rove adown the garden silently as drifting snow. 
Near that old rose named from its hundred leaves
The lovely bridal-roses sweetly blush;
The climbing rose across the trellis weaves
A .canopy suffused with tender flush;
The damask roses swing on tiny trees,
And here the seven-sisters glow like floral
pleiades. 
Nor lacks there music in this lovely close,
The music of the oriole's soft lute,
The gush of cadenced melody that flows
And echoes from the blue-bird's fairy flute;
And here beside the fountain's mossy brink
There rings the lilting laughter of the happy
bobolink. 
From forth the branches of the lilac tree
The robin-redbreast's bubbling ditties well;
O cherished will his name forever be,
For he it was, as olden stories tell,
That eased the crown upon the Saviour's head
And with the bleeding thorn stained his own breast
forever red! 
And now and then the shy wood-robin comes
And from the pear tree pours his liquid notes;
The black-bird plays among the purple plums;
The humming-bird about the garden floats
And like a bright elf wings his darting flight,
A shimmering, evanescent point of green and golden
light. 
Down in the lily's creamy cup he dips,
Then whirrs to where the honeysuckle showers
Its luscious essences; but most he sips
From out the deep, red-throated trumpet-flowers;
Sweet booty there awaits the spoiler's stealth
As horn by horn he rifles all their summer-hoarded
wealth. 
The ragged-robins gaze with pleased surprise
Upon the jewelled beauty flashing there;
The pansies open wide their velvet eyes
And ponder sweetly on that rover fair,
Until the purple Canterbury-bell
Chimes out its little curfew tolling them to slumber's
spell. 
O sweet is every rural sight and sound
That greets us in the pleasant countryside,
The fields of crimson clover walled around
With greenest hedges, fertile valleys wide,
Long, wooded slopes, and many a grassy hill,
And peaceful, silver rivers flowing on from mill to
mill. 
Sweet is the odor of the warm, soft rain
In violet-days, when spring opes her green
heart;
And sweet the apple trees along the lane
Whose lovely blossoms all too soon depart;
And sweet the brimming dew that overfills
The golden chalices of all the trembling daffodils. 
Sweet is the fragrance of the fruity vine,
And sweet the rustle of the broad-leaved corn;
And sweet the lowing of the great-eyed kine
Among the milking-sheds at early morn
As they await the farmer's red-cheeked girls,
While still the spiders' filmy webs are bright with
dewy pearls. 
And sweet the locust's drowsy monotone.
And sweet the ring-dove's brooding plaint at eve;
And sweet from far-off meadows newly mown
The breath of hay that tempts the bees to leave
The corridors of hollyhocks ; and sweet
To see the sun-browned reapers in among the ripened
wheat. 
But sweeter far in this old garden close
To loiter 'mid the lovely, old-time flowers,
To breathe the scent of lavender and rose,
And with old poets pass the peaceful hours.
Old gardens and old poets, happy he
Whose quiet summer days are spent in such sweet
company! 
And now is gone the dreamy afternoon,
The sun has sunk below yon western height;
The pallid silver of the harvest-moon
Floods all the garden with its soft, weird light.
The flowers long since have told their dewy beads,
And naught is heard except the frogs' small choir in
distant meads.
The Old-Fashioned Garden and Other Verses
BY John Russell Hayes
John C. Winston & Co., 1895 © by owner. provided at no charge for educational purposes


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