I stand in wonder. What amazing art!
No counterfeit is this, but counterpart
Itself, carved with the infinite detail
That makes the plodding step of patience fail.
From life’s authentic prompt-book is this leaf.
And here are flowers, petaled every one
To cup the rain and captivate the sun:
The poignant lilac whose sharp sword of scent
Can make the memory bleed – that sacrament
We call a rose – a thousand other blooms,
Forever mummied in their crystal tombs.
And yet . somehow . as I behold
These mimic plants, they leave the fancy cold;
Then, frigid patterns, sleep inviolate
Within your glassy cells. Unkindly fate
Denied you death and so denied you life
I want my plants to feel the tonic strife
Of all the testing elements; to know
The flagellation of the rain, the snow,
The scathing sun, the shrapnel of the hail;
To bear the hundred lashes of the gale
And all that soul of man or flower needs
For flowering – the rivalry of weeds,
Not clipped or clamped in time’s unyielding vise –
Eternal molds of sempiternal ice –
Farewell, stark forms. No more can you beguile,
You wear the sleety artificial smile
That freezes as it falls. My earthly flowers
Can hear the wing-beat of the flying hours
And, blushing for your deep immortal lie,
Are unafraid – nay, eager – proud-to die.
So shall they burgeon with a sweeter breath
Because, like us, they wait the frost of death.