Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, COLUMBINE, by JOHN BURROUGHS



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COLUMBINE, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: I strolled along the beaten way
Last Line: The eye to charm, the ear to bless.
Subject(s): Columbines; Plants; Planting; Planters


I strolled along the beaten way,
Where hoary cliffs uprear their heads,
And all the firstlings of the May
Were peeping from their leafy beds,
When, dancing in its rocky frame,
I saw th' columbine's flower of flame.

Above a lichened niche it clung,
Or did it leap from out a seam? --
Some hidden fire had found a tongue
And burst to light with vivid gleam.
It thrilled the eye, it cheered the place,
And gave the ledge a living grace.

The redstart flashing up and down,
The oriole whistling in the elm,
The kinglet with his ruby crown --
All wear the colors of thy realm;
And starling, too, with glowing coals --
So shine thy lamps by oak-tree boles.

I saw them a-flaming
Against the gray rocks;
I saw them in couples,
I saw them in flocks.
They danced in the breezes,
They glowered in the sun,
They nodded and beckoned,
Rejoiced every one.

Some grew by the wayside,
Some peered from the ledge,
Some flamed from a crevice,
And clung like a wedge;
Some rooted in debris
Of rocks and of trees,
And all were inviting
The wild banded bees.

Nature knows well the use of foils,
And knoweth how to recompense;
There lurks a grace in all her toils
And in her ruder elements;
And oft doth gleam a tenderness
The eye to charm, the ear to bless.





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