Where is the hand that gathered it, the violet fresh and sweet,
From its nest mid the dewy mosses that clothed the great oak's feet?
Alas for the eager fingers!
They handled the sword-hilt well;
But they could not guard the bright young head
That found a soldier's gory bed,
When the vines were crushed 'neath the guardsmen's tread,
And the night over Alma fell.
Where is the smile that welcomed it with her gallant lover's vow,
And placed it amid the golden braids that crowned her fair young brow?
It is carved on the lips of marble
Of the statue that marks her rest,
As she lies alone in her maiden grave
In the great cathedral's solemn nave,
Where the organ's voice, like a rolling wave,
Flows over her virgin breast.
Leave the violet in the volume of the old romantic rhyme —
Pale symbol of love that has passed away, dry pledge of a sweet old time!
What would avail to place it
Again in the soft green grass?
The old oak, felled, mid the moss is flung;
The tale is told and the song is sung;
Let it moulder the mouldering pages among:
So does youth, love, and spring-time pass.