A Valentine

A poem by John Clare

Here's a valentine nosegay for Mary,
Some of Spring's earliest flowers;
The ivy is green by the dairy,
And so are these laurels of ours.
Though the snow fell so deep and the winter was dreary,
The laurels are green and the sparrows are cheery.

The snowdrops in bunches grow under the rose,
And aconites under the lilac, like fairies;
The best in the bunches for Mary I chose,
Their looks are as sweet and as simple as Mary's.
The one will make Spring in my verses so bare,
The other set off as a braid thy dark hair.

Pale primroses, too, at the old parlour end,
Have bloomed all the winter 'midst snows cold and dreary,
Where the lavender-cotton kept off the cold wind,
Now to shine in my valentine nosegay for Mary;
And appear in my verses all Summer, and be
A memento of fondness and friendship for thee.

Here's the crocus half opened, that spreads into gold,
Like branches of sunbeams left there by a fairy:
I place them as such in these verses so cold,
But they'll bloom twice as bright in the presence of Mary,
These garden flowers crop't, I will go to the field,
And see what the valley and pasture land yield.

Here peeps the pale primrose from the skirts of the wild wood,
And violet blue 'neath the thorn on the green;
The wild flowers we plucked in the days of our childhood,
On the very same spot, as no changes have been--
In the very same place where the sun kissed the leaves,
And the woodbine its branches of thorns interweaves.

And here in the pasture, all swarming with rushes,
Is a cowslip as blooming and forward as Spring;
And the pilewort like sunshine grows under the bushes,
While the chaffinch there sitting is trying to sing;
And the daisies are coming, called "stars of the earth,"
To bring to the schoolboy his Springtime of mirth.

Here, then, is the nosegay: how simple it shines!
It speaks without words to the ear and the eye;
The flowers of the Spring are the best valentines;
They are young, fair, and simple, and pleasingly shy.
That you may remain so and your love never vary,
I send you these flowers as a valentine, Mary.

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