Fancies of Spray and Petal

I.

Ferns.

IF trees are Nature’s thoughts or dreams,
And witness how her great heart yearns,
Then she has only shown, it seems,
The softest fantasies in ferns!
Those low green boughs, what shapely grace,
What wavy, lissome charm, they wear!
Delicate, supple, frail as lace,
And pliant to each passing air!
Though sweet to see when, there or here,
Along some common meadowed way,
They throng in feathery jungles near
Some stolid bowlder’s bulk of gray,
Yet ah! no light their spray so serves
As when, where cloistering branches cross,
I meet its shadowy silvered curves
On spaces of dark, moonlit moss!
For here quick Fancy finds a bower
Where she can watch, in pictured wise,
An Oberon squeeze the fatal flower
In poor Titania’s drowsing eyes!
And nimble fay and pranksome elf
Flash vaguely past at every turn,
Or, weird and wee, sits Puck himself,
With legs akimbo, on a fern!

II.

Moss.

STRANGE tapestry, by Nature spun
On viewless looms, aloof from sun,
And spread through lonely nooks and grots
Where shadows reign, and leafy rest,—
O moss, of all your dwelling-spots,
In which one are you loveliest?
Is it when near grim roots that coil
Their snaky black through humid soil?
Or when you wrap, in woodland glooms,
The great prone pine-trunks, rotted red?
Or when you dim, on sombre tombs,
The requiescats of the dead?
Or is it when your lot is cast
In some quaint garden of the past,
On some gray, crumbled basin’s brim,
With conchs that mildewed Tritons blow,
While yonder, through the poplars prim,
Looms up the turreted château?
Nay, loveliest are you when time weaves
Your emerald films on low, dark eaves,
Above where pink porch-roses peer,
And woodbines break in fragrant foam,
And children laugh, . . . and you can hear
The beatings of the heart of Home!

III.

A Tuberose.

CHASTE waxen shape, in whose clear chalice dwell
Odors that tell
Of moans and tears and chambers gloomed with grief,
Wan sister of the tulip’s laughing bloom,
What primal doom
Fashioned the lifeless pallor of your leaf?
As winds down dreamy gardens came to sigh
“ The rose must die,”
At some old immemorial twilight hour,
Did you, the incarnate terror and unrest
Of summer’s breast,
First bathe in chilling dews your ghostly flower?
Or did the moon, through some sweet night, long-dead,
Her splendor shed
On some rich tomb, while silence held its breath,
Till one pure sculptured blossom thrilled and grew
Strangely to you,
Cold child of moonbeams, marble, and white death!
Edgar Fawcett.