Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, MAGNOLIA, by MARGARET SACKVILLE

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MAGNOLIA, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Exotic stranger, whose most costly scent
Last Line: Of your dramatic loveliness beware!
Subject(s): Magnolias

Exotic stranger, whose most costly scent
Might, with sweet odour, flood a Continent;
Whose opulent voluptuousness looks down
Amazed upon an English country town,
(So Messalina, exiled, might we see
Brooding, astonished, at a parish tea);
What do you here, lost Empress?—How old
Our sun must seem, our warmest winds, how cold!
What thoughts are yours? Those petals of thick cream
Lie lapped and laved in a continuous dream
Of forests, dark as death, yet shining bright
With Tropic blooms, all insolence and might,
Which poison with hot breath the violent air;
Their frantic perfume heavy like despair!—
What vision haunts your discontented hours,
Proudest and most disdainful of all flowers?
Alas! no gorgeous butterfly arrayed
In million colours may your charms invade,
Nor warrior insect, from green swamp upstrung,
Taste your strong honey with his dart-like tongue;
Only domestic bees, and drowsy, small
Provincial insects sometimes dare to call,
Then flee from such rich banquetings, oppressed
By foreign flavours which they deem unblessed.—
Magnolia, in your petals, every one,
You hold delights which we, suspicious, shun.—
Let those who would not in such secrets share,
Of your dramatic loveliness beware!

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