As purely white as is the drifted snow,
More dazzling fair than summer roses are,
Petalled with rays like a clear rounded star,
When winds pipe chilly, and red sunsets glow,
Your blossoms blow.
Sweet with a freshening fragrance, all their own,
In which a faint, dim breath of bitter lies,
Like wholesome breath mid honeyed flatteries;
When other blooms are dead, and birds have flown,
You stand alone.
Fronting the winter with a fearless grace,
Flavoring the odorless gray autumn chill,
Nipped by the furtive frosts, but cheery still,
Lifting to heaven from the bare garden place
A smiling face.
Roses are fair, but frail, and soon grow faint,
Nor can endure a hardness; violets blue,
Short-lived and sweet, live but a day or two;
The nun-like lily bows without complaint,
And dies a saint.
Each following each they hasten them away,
And leave us to our winter and our rue,
Sad and uncomforted; you, only you,
Dear, hardy lover, keep your faith and stay
Long as you may.
And so we choose you out from all the rest,
For that most noble word of "Loyalty,"
Which blazoned on your petals seems to be;
Winter is near,--stay with us; be our guest,
The last and best.