For works with similar titles, see The Wreath.
3268047Bohemian Poems, Ancient and Modern — The Wreath1849Albert Henry Wratislaw





A WREATH of flow’rets for a maiden’s brow,
The earliest daughters of the budding spring!
Such would I twine, and place them there to blow,
And gaze upon them and their beauties sing.

First then I seek the willowy bank, and frame
A circlet rich with flowers of golden hue,
Rich too with emblems and a meaning name—
O may the end approve its meaning true!

The palm-branch is the prize of victory—
O that these palms may prove prophetic now!
Life is a contest, and its end must be
Shame, or a deathless crown upon the brow.

Lo! here and there fresh daisies spangle o’er
The grassy mead, my watchful eye beneath;
All hail, fair flow’rets! come, increase the store,
That I am gathering for the maiden’s wreath!

Oft doth the scythe upon its ruthless way
Behead the daisy flowers upon the green,
Yet the true-hearted root is constant aye,
New flowers producing where the first have been.

So the true heart repulse doth never heed
In doing deeds of good and charity;
If the still voice of Conscience bid proceed,
It presseth on and on unfearingly.

Me thinks a yellow crowfoot too I see,
On the green earth a glittering mimic star;
This to a Christian maid may emblem be
Of hopes that fain would dwell in heaven afar.

The stingless nettle too befits her brow,
Reproof with warning looks that harmeth not;
This will I twine among the rest, to shew
Repulse to aught that may the purest blot.

The violet too, that fain unknown would bloom,
And scatter fragrance round it all unseen—
O happy, from the cradle to the tomb,
Who like the violet in their life have been!

And let the gardens yield their early store,
The modest snowdrop with its downcast eye,
The gladsome crocus, that doth spangle o’er
The borders with its joyous brilliancy.

How precious the few flowers of early spring!
Youth can do little, but we prize it more,
That little, than what later days can bring
Out of their rich and time-o’erflowing store.

Thus, Mary, have I twin’d a wreath for thee,
And on thy locks the birthday garland set,
And kept my promise. Let us also see
Thy sacred promise find fulfilment meet.

Promise was made, when water bath’d thy brow,
Renew’d, when hands were laid upon thy head—
O keep it well, that sacred promise, now!
O keep the words that may not be unsaid!

And lovely too the promise of thy youth,—
O may’st thou keep that promise unto age!—
Full of ideal Beauty and of Truth,
Thou springest forth upon thy pilgrimage.—

O doom’d, as all are doom’d, to learn and know,
That life is other far than life should be,
I dare not wish thee, all exempt from woe,
A golden day and peaceful hours to see.

The cross hath on thy forehead been impress’d,
And thou must bear it stedfast to the end,
Stilling the conflicts of the struggling breast,
Doing and suffering what God shall send.

Thus, though much needing counsel, I advise—
O could I mine own lessons learn aright!
Tott’ring my feet, and dizzy are mine eyes,
And yet to others’ steps I hold a light.

The secret springs of being deep within
Who can search out, or who disclose to view?
One only Eye can look the heartstrings in,
One only Mind can read their story true.

Dark are the guesses of our sympathy,—
Who to another can the causes tell
Of all the smiles that o'er the features fly,
Of all the heavings that the bosom swell?

Yet each one well may wish another’s good,
And each one for another’s welfare pray,
Thrice happy, if no thought of ill intrude,
To mar the kindly wishes on their way.

And now farewell! the wide world is before thee,
With storm and shine an ever-changing scene;
Earth lies beneath thy feet, the heavens are o'er thee,
And these are what thou needs must choose between.

O fare thee well upon thy pilgrimage!
May ev’ry aiding grace to thee come down!
So may the war thou hast on earth to wage,
Win the true amaranth of a heav’nly crown!