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Oh, little thought that lady proud,
A child would watch her fair white rose,
When buried lay her whiter brows,

And silk was changed for shroud!

Nor thought that gardener, (full of scorns
For men unlearned and simple phrase,)
A child would bring it all its praise

By creeping through the thorns!

To me upon my low moss seat,
Though never a dream the roses sent
Of science or love's compliment,

I ween they smelt as sweet.

It did not move my grief to see
The trace of human step departed:
Because the garden was deserted,

The blither place for me!

Friends, blame me not! a narrow ken
Hath childhood 'twixt the sun and sward;
We draw the moral afterward,

We feel the gladness then.

And gladdest hours for me did glide
In silence at the rose-tree wall:
A thrush made gladness musical

Upon the other side.

Nor he nor I did e'er incline
To peck or pluck the blossoms white;
How should I know but roses might

Lead lives as glad as mine?

To make my hermit-home complete,
I brought clear water from the spring
Praised in its own low murmuring,

And cresses glossy wet.

The Deserted Garden


And so, I thought, my likeness grew
(Without the melancholy tale)
To “gentle hermit of the dale,"

And Angelina too.

For oft I read within my nook
Such minstrel stories; till the breeze
Made sounds poetic in the trees,

And then I shut the book.

If I shut this wherein I write,
I hear no more the wind athwart
Those trees, nor feel that childish heart

Delighting in delight.

My childhood from my life is parted,
My footstep from the moss which drew
Its fairy circle round: anew

The garden is deserted.

Another thrush may there rehearse
The madrigals which sweetest are;
No more for me! myself afar

Do sing a sadder verse.

Ah me, ah me! when erst I lay
In that child's-nest so greenly wrought,
I laughed unto myself and thought

“The time will pass away.”

And still I laughed, and did not fear
But that, whene'er was passed away
The childish time, some happier play

My womanhood would cheer.

I knew the time would pass away,
And yet, beside the rose-tree wall,
Dear God, how seldom, if at all,

Did I look up to pray!

The time is past; and now that grows
The cypress high among the trees,
And I behold white sepulchres ·

As well as the white rose,

When graver, meeker thoughts are given,
And I have learnt to lift my face,
Reminded how earth's greenest place

The color draws from heaven,

It something saith for earthly pain,
But more for Heavenly promise free,
That I who was, would shrink to be
That happy child again.

Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1806–1861]


In a coign of the cliff between lowland and highland,

At the sea-down's edge between windward and lee,
Walled round with rocks as an inland island,

The ghost of a garden fronts the sea.
A girdle of brushwood and thorn encloses

The steep, square slope of the blossomless bed
Where the weeds that grew green from the graves of its


Now lie dead.
T'he fields fall southward, abrupt and broken,

To the low last edge of the long lone land.
If a step should sound or a word be spoken,

Would a ghost not rise at the strange guest's hand? So long have the gray, bare walks lain guestless,

Through branches and briers if a man make way, He shall find no life but the sea-wind's, restless

Night and day.

The dense, hard passage is blind and stifled

That crawls by a track none turn to climb
To the strait waste place that the years have rifled

Of all but the thorns that are touched not of Time.

A Forsaken Garden


The thorns he spares when the rose is taken;

The rocks are left when he wastes the plain. The wind that wanders, the weeds wind-shaken,

These remain.

Not a flower to be pressed of the foot that falls not;

As the heart of a dead man the seed-plots are dry; From the thicket of thorns whence the nightingale calls not,

Could she call, there were never a rose to reply. Over the meadows that blossom and wither

Rings but the note of a sea-bird's song; Only the sun and the rain come hither

All year long.

The sun burns sere and the rain dishevels

One gaunt bleak blossom of scentless breath.
Only the wind here hovers and revels

In a round where life seems barren as death.
Here there was laughing of old, there was weeping,

Haply, of lovers none ever will know,
Whose eyes went seaward a hundred sleeping

Years ago.

Heart handfast in heart as they stood, “Look thither,”
Did he whisper? “Look forth from the flowers to the

sea; For the foam-flowers endure when the rose-blossoms wither,

And men that love lightly may die—but we?”
And the same wind sang and the same waves whitened,

And or ever the garden's last petals were shed,
In the lips that had whispered, the eyes that had lightened,

Love was dead. Or they loved their life through, and then went whither?

And were one to the end—but what end who knows?
Love deep as the sea as a rose must wither,

As the rose-red seaweed that mocks the rose.
Shall the dead take thought for the dead to love them?

What love was ever as deep as a grave?
They are loveless now as the grass above them

Or the wave.

All are at one now, roses and lovers,

Not known of the cliffs and the fields and the sea.
Not a breath of the time that has been hovers

In the air now soft with a summer to be.
Not a breath shall there sweeten the seasons hereafter

Of the flowers or the lovers that laugh now or weep, When, as they that are free now of weeping and laughter,

We shall sleep.

Here death may deal not again forever;'

Here change may come not till all change end. From the graves they have made they shall rise up never,

Who have left naught living to ravage and rend. Earth, stones, and thorns of the wild ground growing,

While the sun and the rain live, these shall be; Till a last wind's breath, upon all these blowing,

Roll the sea.

Till the slow sea rise and the sheer cliff crumble,

Till terrace and meadow the deep gulfs drink,
Till the strength of the waves of the high tides humble

The fields that lessen, the rocks that shrink;
Here now in his triumph where all things falter,

Stretched out on the spoils that his own hand spread,
As a god self-slain on his own strange altar,
Death lies dead.

Algernon Charles Swinburne (1837-1909]


O THE green things growing, the green things growing,
The faint sweet smell of the green things growing!
I should like to live, whether I smile or grieve,
Just to watch the happy life of my green things growing.

O the fluttering and the pattering of those green things

growing! How they talk each to each, when none of us are knowing; In the wonderful white of the weird moonlight Or the dim dreamy dawn when the cocks are crowing.

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