The November Pansy

A poem by Duncan Campbell Scott

This is not June, - by Autumn's stratagem
Thou hast been ambushed in the chilly air;
Upon thy fragile crest virginal fair
The rime has clustered in a diadem;
The early frost
Has nipped thy roots and tried thy tender stem,
Seared thy gold petals, all thy charm is lost.

Thyself the only sunshine: in obeying
The law that bids thee blossom in the world
Thy little flag of courage is unfurled;
Inherent pansy-memories are saying
That there is sun,
That there is dew and colour and warmth repaying
The rain, the starlight when the light is done.

These are the gaunt forms of the hollyhocks
That shower the seeds from out their withered purses;
Here were the pinks; there the nasturtium nurses
The last of colour in her gaudy smocks;
The ruins yonder
Show but a vestige of the flaming phlox;
The poppies on their faded glory ponder.

Here visited the vagrant humming-bird,
The nebulous darting green, the ruby-throated;
The warm fans of the butterfly here floated;
Those two nests reared the robins, and the third
Was left forlorn
Muffled in lilacs, whence the perfume stirred
The tremulous eyelids of the dewy morn.

Thy sisters of the early summer-time
Were masquers in this carnival of pleasure;
Each in her turn unrolled her golden treasure,
And thou hast but the ashes of the prime;
'Tis life's own malice
That brings the peasant of a race sublime
To feed her flock around her ruined palace.

Yet for withstanding thus the autumn's dart
Some deeper pansy-insight will atone;
It comes to souls neglected and alone,
Something that prodigals in pleasure's mart
Lose in the whirl;
The peasant child will have a purer heart
Than the vain favourite of the vanished earl.

And far above this tragic world of ours
There is a world of a diviner fashion,
A mystic world, a world of dreams and passion
That each aspiring thing creates and dowers
With its own light;
Where even the frail spirits of trees and flowers
Pause, and reach out, and pass from height to height.

Here will we claim for thee another fief,
An upland where a glamour haunts the meadows,
Snow peaks arise enrobed in rosy shadows,
Fairer the under slopes with vine and sheaf
And shimmering lea;
The paradise of a simple old belief,
That flourished in the Islands of the Sea.

A snow-cool cistern in the fairy hills
Shall feed thy roots with moisture clear as dew;
A ferny shield to temper the warm blue
That heaven is; a thrush that thrills
To answer his mate,
And when above the ferns the shadow fills,
Fireflies to render darkness consolate.

Here muse and brood, moulding thy seed and die
And re-create thy form a thousand fold,
Mellowing thy petals to more lucent gold,
Till they expand, tissues of amber sky;
Till the full hour,
And the full light and the fulfilling eye
Shall find amid the ferns the perfect flower.

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