Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE VIOLET, by ALEXANDER ANDERSON



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THE VIOLET, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: On the down line, and close beside the rail
Last Line: Unheeding, thunders on.
Alternate Author Name(s): Surfaceman
Subject(s): Flowers; Railroads; Violets; Railways; Trains


ON the down line, and close beside the rail,
A tender violet grew,
A sister spirit, when the stars grew pale,
Gave it a drink of dew.

And so its azure deepen'd day by day,
And sweet it was to see.
As I went up and down the four-feet way,
The flower peep up at me.

I grew to like it—such a tiny thing,
So free from human stains,
Bending and swaying to each rush and swing
Of passing pitiless trains.

And when we came at times to make repair
Beside the place, I took
A living heed to let it blossom there,
To cheer me with its look.

For fancy working in its quiet ways,
Sometimes would change the flower
Into a maiden of these iron days,
When might was right and power.

And up and down the lints of gleaming rail
With echoing clank and shock,
Rode the stern engines in their suits of mail,
Like knights with spears of smoke.

I crown'd her queen of beauty at their call,
And as I knelt beside
My bud, it look'd up, as if knowing all,
And shook with modest pride.

Then restless fancy changing, it became
A martyr firm and high,
Bound to the stake and lick'd with tongues of flame,
With bigots scowling nigh.

Next, a young poet with his soul aglow
With passionate dreams of truth,
And thoughts akin to those that angels know,
Who have eternal youth.

A nature all unfitted for the time,
Born but to droop and fade,
Like long sweet cadences of fairy rhyme
Within the summer shade.

All these and more my little flower did seem,
As to and fro I went,
Not early light or when the sun's soft beam,
That to the west half spent.

It made itself a presence in my thought,
Seen of the inner eye,
So pure and sweet, and yet so near the spot
Where wild trains thunder by.

But one sweet morning, when the young sunshine
Laid long soft arms of light
Around the earth, I found the flower of mine
Stricken as with some blight.

For like a fallen spot of heaven grown pale,
It lent its drooping head
Against the cold touch of the careless rail,
Wither'd, and shrunk, and dead.

Thus some rare soul, toiling for purer gains,
Sinks in the night alone,
While the hoarse world, like the iron trains,
Unheeding, thunders on.





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