[Note - It is an old wives' tale that foxgloves have "knowledge." When a spirit passes, they know, and bow their heads.]
The foxgloves bow their lilac heads to-night,
Although no leaf is shaken on the rose,
And no soft-singing wind steals by on light,
Quick steps, to woo the last-born bud that blows.
So still the day has gathered sunset up.
So still the red has gone, the dusk has come,
The brown bee dreaming in the poppies' cup,
Spills dust upon the cool delphinium.
Like cloistered nuns, pale-eyed, the scented stocks
Kneel shrouded In the larkspur's filmy blue.
The heaped-up, passionate, wan hollyhocks
Wait dumbly for the stars to glimmer through.
So still the flowers are, as though they slept
With soft, expectant faces, borne upright!
No laggard breeze among the bloom has crept --
But how the foxgloves bow their heads to-night!
Oh, hush! Some soul has passed a breath ago!
But I -- I did not hear the death-bell ring!
Only the foxgloves in the garden know,
And droop their heads and move a-murmuring!
What unloosed soul has winged its lonely flight
Across the ocean of infinity?
Some spirit straight from youth, all radiant-white,
To go while sap runs singing in the tree?
To go, dear God, when elm and lilac bud
And gorse thrusts out in flaming spikes of gold!
Ah! let me think it fled from one whose blood
Ran chill and slow, whose faded eyes were old --
Not from the house of him whose eager feet
The stones of life had scarce begun to know!
How sweet this purple dusk! Dear life, how sweet!
Yet some winged soul has passed a breath ago!
I cannot bear it if it were some child
Whose soul has fled the blazing white of Spring,
While spangled paths among the grasses wild
Invite bore feet to go a-wandering!
Some child who, dreaming 'neath a blue-topped hill,
Looked out upon the edges of the world --
For whom the capeweed cups held gold to fill
Unto the brim, his little hand in-curled!
Who knows? I may have heard his shrill young song
Float down the early morning clear and mild,
Or glimpsed him bending where the cowslips throng --
I cannot hear it if it were some child!...
Oh, think of this! One day some friend may pass,
And see these drooping bells, and weep to see
And say: "They bow for one who loved the grass
And shining trees and sun!" They'll bow for me!
First published in The Bulletin, 14 September 1922;
and later in
White Magic by Myra Morris, 1929.