The Autumn Cyclamen by Frances Anne Kemble
We are the ghosts of those small flowers,
That in the opening of the year,
‘Neath rosemary and myrtle bowers,
In crimson vests appear.
Far, underneath the blue pine wood,
Between its massive porphyry stems,
The mossy ground we overstrewed
With ruby-coloured gems.
The slender heath spires o’er us waved
Their lordly snow-white feathers fine,
And round our feet the earth was paved
With sheddings of the pine.
The flower Apollo loved, its bloom
In rosy bunches o’er us spread,
And heavy hanging golden broom
Deep golden shadows shed.
Above, around, and underneath,
The aromatic air was filled
With the wild sweetness of our breath,
Like honeycombs distilled.
The spring breeze flying towards the sea
Entranced, remained, and o’er us hung,
And in our cups the soft brown bee
Bending our blossoms swung.
The blue sea sang to us a deep,
Sonorous, solemn melody,
The sun stooped ‘neath the boughs to peep
At our fair company.
And you went by, in your white hand
Was many a slender, brittle stem,
That you had gathered from our band,
We wished we were with them.
Now, here we are a ghostly train,
Who, in the closing of the year,
From the dark earth-cells rise again,
And sadly do appear.
The red hues of our coronal,
All pale and wintry white have grown,
Our leaves, in wild disorder, all,
By the rough winds are blown.
The sunbeams faint, and thin, and chill,
Look at us through dark walls of cloud,
And o’er the gray ridge of the hill
The storm howls fierce and loud.
‘Neath many a black green ivy wreath,
Steeped in the cold and glittering showers,
We send a faint and scentless breath,
Through gloomy laurel bowers.
The hard pine-cones come shaken down,
Bruising us, where we clustered grow,
Brown, thorny, wild-brier arms are thrown
Across our breasts of snow.
The threatening thunder heavily
Rolls through the darkening realms of space,
And in the lightning glares we see
Each other’s wet, wan face.
We are the ghosts of those gay flowers,
That in your soft white hand you bore,
And soon the cheerless wintry bowers
Will see e’en us no more.