Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE WANDERER: 3. IN ENGLAND: THE ALOE, by EDWARD ROBERT BULWER-LYTTON

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Classic and Contemporary Poetry

THE WANDERER: 3. IN ENGLAND: THE ALOE, by                 Poet's Biography
First Line: A stranger sent from burning lands
Last Line: It never came to blossom.
Alternate Author Name(s): Meredith, Owen; Lytton, 1st Earl Of; Lytton, Robert
Subject(s): England; Travel; English; Journeys; Trips

A STRANGER sent from burning lands,
In realms where buzz and mutter yet
Old gods, with hundred heads and hands,
On jewelled thrones of jet, --

(Old gods as old as Time itself,)
And, in a hot and level calm,
Recline o'er many a sandy shelf
Dusk forms beneath the palm, --

To Lady Eve, who dwells beside
The river-meads, and oak-trees tall,
Whose dewy shades encircle wide
Her old Baronial Hall,

An Indian plant with leaves like horn,
And, all along its stubborn spine,
Mere humps, with angry spike and thorn
Armed like the porcupine.

In midst of which one sullen bud
Surveyed the world, with head aslant,
High-throned, and looking like the god
Of this strange Indian plant.

A stubborn plant, from looking cross
It seemed no kindness could retrieve!
But for his sake whose gift it was
It pleased the Lady Eve.

She set it on the terraced walk,
Within her own fair garden-ground;
And every morn and eve its stalk
Was duly watered round.

And every eve and morn, the while
She tended this uncourteous thing,
I stood beside her, -- watched her smile,
And often heard her sing.

The roses I at times would twist
To deck her hair, she oft forgot;
But never that dark aloe missed
The daily watering-pot.

She seemed so gay, -- I felt so sad, --
Her laugh but made me frown the more:
For each light word of hers I had
Some sharp reply in store.

Until she laughed..."This aloe shows
A kindlier nature than your own"...
Ah, Eve, you little dreamed what foes
The plant and I had grown!

At last, one summer night, when all
The garden-flowers were dreaming still,
And still the old Baronial Hall,
The oak-trees on the hill,

A loud and sudden sound there stirred,
As when a thunder-cloud is torn;
Such thunder-claps are only heard
When little gods are born.

The echo went from place to place,
And wakened every early sleeper.
Some said that poachers in the chase
Had slain a buck -- or keeper.

Some hinted burglars at the door:
Some questioned if it had not lightened:
While all the maids, as each one swore,
From their seven wits were frightened.

The peacocks screamed, and every rook
Upon the elms at roost did caw:
Each inmate straight the house forsook:
They searched -- and, last, -- they saw

That sullen bud to flower had burst
Upon the sharp-leaved aloe there; --
A wondrous flower, whose breath disperst
Rich odors on the air.

A flower, colossal -- dazzling white,
And fair as is a Sphinx's face,
Turned broadly to the moon by night
From some vast temple's base.

Yes, Eve! your aloe paid the pains
With which its sullen growth you nurst.
But ah! my nature yet remains
As churlish as at first.

And yet, and yet -- it might have proved
Not all unworth your heart's approving.
Ah, had I only been beloved, --
(Beloved as I was loving!)

I might have been...how much, how much,
I am not now, and shall not be!
One gentle look, one tender touch,
Had done so much for me!

I too, perchance, if kindly tended,
Had roused the napping generation,
With something novel, strange, and splendid,
Deserving admiration:

For all the while there grew, and grew
A germ, -- a bud, within my bosom:
No flower, fair Eve! -- for, thanks to you,
It never came to blossom.

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