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A Walk In The Shrubbery

Charlotte Smith 1749 (London) – 1806 (Tilford, Surrey)

To the Cistus or Rock Rose, a beautiful plant, whose flowers
expand, and fall off twice in twenty-four hours.
THE Florists, who have fondly watch'd,
Some curious bulb from hour to hour,
And, to ideal charms attach'd,
Derive their glory from a flower;
Or they, who lose in crouded rooms,
Spring's tepid suns and balmy air,
And value Flora's fairest blooms,
But in proportion as they're rare;

Feel not the pensive pleasures known
To him, who, thro' the morning mist,
Explores the bowery shrubs new blown,
A moralizing Botanist.­
He marks, with colours how profuse
Some are design'd to please the eye;
While beauty some combine with use,
In admirable harmony.
The fruit buds, shadow'd red and white,
Amid young leaves of April hue;
Convey sensations of delight,
And promise fruits autumnal too:

And, while the Thrush his home and food,
Hails, as the flowering thorns unfold,
And from its trunk of ebon wood,
Rears Cytisus its floating gold;
The Lilac, whose tall head discloses
Groups of such bright empurpled shade,
And snow-globes form'd of elfin roses,
Seem for exclusive beauty made:
Such too art thou; when light anew
Above the eastern hill is seen,
Thy buds, as fearful of the dew,
Still wear their sheltering veil of green.

But in the next more genial hour
Thy tender rose-shaped cups unfold,
And soon appears the perfect flower,
With ruby spots and threads of gold.
That short and fleeting hour gone by,
And even the slightest breath of air,
Scarce heard among thy leaves to sigh,
Or little bird that flutters there;
Shakes off thy petals thin and frail,
And soon, like half-congealing snow,
The sport of every wandering gale,
They strew the humid turf below.

Yet tho' thy gauzy bells fall fast,
Long ere appears the evening crescent;
Another bloom succeeds the last,
As lovely and as evanescent.
Not so the poet's favourite Rose,
She blooms beyond a second day,
And even some later beauty shews­
Some charm still lingering in decay.
Thus those, who thro' life's path have pass'd,
A path how seldom strewn with flowers !
May have met Friendships formed to last
Beyond the noonday's golden hours.

While quickly formed, dissolv'd as soon,
Some warm attachments I have known
Just flourish for an hour at noon,
But leave no trace when overblown.
Minds that form these, with ardent zeal
Their new connexions fondly cherish,
And for a moment keenly feel
Affection, doomed as soon to perish;
Incapable of Friendship long,
Awake to every new impression,
Old friends, becoming ci-devant !
Are still replaced by a Succession.

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Submitted on May 13, 2011

2:13 min read

Charlotte Smith

Charlotte Turner Smith was an English Romantic poet and novelist. She initiated a revival of the English sonnet, helped establish the conventions of Gothic fiction, and wrote political novels of sensibility. A successful writer, she published ten novels, three books of poetry, four children's books, and other assorted works over the course of her career. She saw herself as a poet first and foremost, poetry at that period being considered the most exalted form of literature. Scholars now credit her with transforming the sonnet into an expression of woeful sentiment. more…

All Charlotte Smith poems | Charlotte Smith Books

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