The Tell-Tale Flowers

A poem by John Clare

And has the Spring's all glorious eye
No lesson to the mind?
The birds that cleave the golden sky--
Things to the earth resigned--
Wild flowers that dance to every wind--
Do they no memory leave behind?

Aye, flowers! The very name of flowers,
That bloom in wood and glen,
Brings Spring to me in Winter's hours,
And childhood's dreams again.
The primrose on the woodland lea
Was more than gold and lands to me.

The violets by the woodland side
Are thick as they could thrive;
I've talked to them with childish pride
As things that were alive:
I find them now in my distress--
They seem as sweet, yet valueless.

The cowslips on the meadow lea,
How have I run for them!
I looked with wild and childish glee
Upon each golden gem:
And when they bowed their heads so shy
I laughed, and thought they danced for joy.

And when a man, in early years,
How sweet they used to come,
And give me tales of smiles and tears,
And thoughts more dear than home:
Secrets which words would then reprove--
They told the names of early love.

The primrose turned a babbling flower
Within its sweet recess:
I blushed to see its secret bower,
And turned her name to bless.
The violets said the eyes were blue:
I loved, and did they tell me true?

The cowslips, blooming everywhere,
My heart's own thoughts could steal:
I nip't them that they should not hear:
They smiled, and would reveal;
And o'er each meadow, right or wrong,
They sing the name I've worshipped long.

The brook that mirrored clear the sky--
Full well I know the spot;
The mouse-ear looked with bright blue eye,
And said "Forget-me-not."
And from the brook I turned away,
But heard it many an after day.

The king-cup on its slender stalk,
Within the pasture dell,
Would picture there a pleasant walk
With one I loved so well.
It said "How sweet at eventide
'T would be, with true love at thy side."

And on the pasture's woody knoll
I saw the wild bluebell,
On Sundays where I used to stroll
With her I loved so well:
She culled the flowers the year before;
These bowed, and told the story o'er.

And every flower that had a name
Would tell me who was fair;
But those without, as strangers, came
And blossomed silent there:
I stood to hear, but all alone:
They bloomed and kept their thoughts unknown.

But seasons now have nought to say,
The flowers no news to bring:
Alone I live from day to day--
Flowers deck the bier of Spring;
And birds upon the bush or tree
All sing a different tale to me.

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