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Flora

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

REMOTE from scenes, where the o'erwearied mind
Shrinks from the crimes and follies of mankind,
From hostile menace, and offensive boast,
Peace, and her train of home-born pleasures lost;
To fancy's reign, who would not gladly turn,
And lose awhile, the miseries they mourn
In sweet oblivion ? Come then, Fancy ! deign,
Queen of ideal pleasure, once again,
To lend thy magic pencil, and to bring
Such lovely forms, as in life's happier spring,

On the green margin of my native Wey,
Before mine infant eyes were wont to play,
And with that pencil, teach me to describe
The enchanting goddess of the flowery tribe,
Whose first prerogative it is to chase
The clouds that hang on languid beauty's face;
And, while advancing suns and tepid showers,
Lead on the laughing Spring's delicious hours,
Bid the wan maid the hues of health assume,
Charm with new grace, and blush with fresher bloom.
The vision comes !­While slowly melt away,
Night's hovering shades before the eastern ray,
Ere yet declines the morning's humid star,
Fair Fancy brings her; in her leafy car

Flora descends, to dress the expecting earth,
Awake the germs, and call the buds to birth;
Bid each hybernacle its cell unfold,
And open silken leaves, and eyes of gold !
Of forest foliage of the firmest shade
Enwove by magic hands, the car was made;
Oak, and the ample Plane, without entwined,
And Beech and Ash the verdant concave lin'd;
The Saxifrage, that snowy flowers emboss,
Supplied the seat; and of the mural moss
The velvet footstool rose, where lightly rest,
Her slender feet in Cypripedium drest.
The tufted rush, that bears a silken crown,
The floating feathers of the thistle's down,

In tender hues of rainbow lustre dyed,
The airy texture of her robe supplied,
And wild convolvuli, yet half unblown,
Form'd, with their wreathing buds, her simple zone,
Some wandering tresses of her radiant hair,
Luxuriant floated on the enamour'd air;
The rest were by the Scandix' points confin'd
And graced a shining knot, her head behind­
While, as a sceptre of supreme command,
She waved the Anthoxanthum in her hand.
Around the goddess, as the flies that play,
In countless myriads in the western ray,
The sylphs innumerous throng; whose magic powers
Guard the soft buds, and nurse the infant flowers;

Round the sustaining stems weak tendrils bind,
And save the pollen from dispersing wind;
From suns too ardent, shade their transient hues,
And catch in odorous cups translucent dews.
The ruder tasks of others are, to chase
From vegetable life the insect race,
Break the polluting thread the spider weaves,
And brush the aphis from th' unfolding leaves.
For conquest arm'd these pigmy warriors wield
The thorny lance, and spread the hollow shield
Of lichen tough; or bear, as silver bright,
Lunaria's pearly circlet, firm and light.
On the helm'd head the crimson foxglove glows,
Or Scutellaria guards the martial brows,

While the Leontodon its plumage rears,
And o'er the casque in waving grace appears;
With stern undaunted eye, one warlike chief
Grasps the tall club from Arum's blood-dropt leaf;
This, with the Burdock's hooks annoys his foes,
The purple thorn that borrows from the Rose.
In honeyed nectaries couched, some drive away
The forked insidious earwig from his prey;
Fearless the scaled libellula assail,
Dart their keen lances at the encroaching snail;
Arrest the winged ant, on pinions light,
And strike the headlong beetle in his flight.
Nor less assiduous round their lovely queen,
The lighter forms of female fays are seen;

Rich was the purple vest Floscella wore,
Spun of the tufts the Tradescantia bore;
The Cistus' flowers minute her temple graced,
And threads of Yucca bound her slender waist.
From the wild bee, whose wond'rous labour weaves,
In artful folds the rose's fragrant leaves,
Was borrow'd fair Petalla's light cymar;
And the Hypericum, with spangling star,
O'er her fair locks its bloom minute enwreath'd;
Then, while voluptuous odours round her breath'd,
Came Nectarynia; as the arrowy rays
Of lambent fire round pictur'd seraphs blaze,
So did the Passiflora's radii shed,
Cerulean glory o'er the sylphid's head,

While round her form, the pliant tendrils twined,
And clasp'd the scarf that floated on the wind.
More grave the para-nymph Calyxa drest;
A brown transparent spatha formed her vest;
The silver scales that bound her raven hair,
Xeranthemum's unfading
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Submitted on May 13, 2011

3:46 min read
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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…

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