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The Lost Embassy

Edith Nesbit 1858 (Kennington, Surrey ) – 1924 (New Romney, Kent)



THE lilies lean to the white, white rose,
The sweet limes send to the blossomed trees,
Soft kisses borne by the golden bees--
And all the world is alive, awake,
And glad to the heart for the summer's sake.

From her tower window the Princess leant,
Where the white light butterflies came and went;
She dropped soft kisses by twos and threes:
'White butterflies mine, will you carry these
To my Prince in prison? for they, who knows,
May break the spell that has held him close
And wake him and win him to stand up free
And laugh--in the sun--with me!'

White lilies, gold in the golden sun,
White Princess, gold in your golden gown--
Far off lies the sad, enchanted town!
Bright wings, light wings, white wings that tire,
Though they carry the flower of the heart's desire--
Will you trust to these, too white, too slight
To bring back the fruit of heart's delight?

All round and about the spell-bound town
The ways are dusty, the woods are brown;
There are no green coverts, no welcoming flowers
For little weary butterfly wings,
No dew, no lilies, no glad live things.
'Neath the sky of steel and the brazen sun
White wings, kiss-laden, dropped one by one:
By twos and threes they dropped by the way,
And only one reached the grim, gray tower
Where, witched from his kingdom, the poor Prince lay--
One poor tired butterfly, smirched and gray
With the dust of the town and the weary way,
And it lit on the Prince's hand and died.
'Bright wings, light wings, white wings,' he cried
'You, only you, might have lived and borne
My prayer to my love in her tower forlorn,
And brought back the kiss that could set me free--
She might have broken the spell that lies
On my foolish heart and my foolish eyes--
But no live butterflies come my way!'

The winds are cold and the skies are gray,
And all the lilies died yesterday;
The Princess leans from her steel-wrought tower
To watch for her butterflies hour by hour.
Poor little Princess, you watch in vain!
Butterflies die where the green wood browns,
And kisses sent to enchanted towns
Never come home again.

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Submitted on May 13, 2011

1:53 min read
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Edith Nesbit

Edith Nesbit (married name Edith Bland) was an English author and poet; she published her books for children under the name of E. Nesbit. She wrote or collaborated on more than 60 books of children's literature. She was also a political activist and co-founded the Fabian Society, a socialist organisation later affiliated to the Labour Party. more…

All Edith Nesbit poems | Edith Nesbit Books

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