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She lifted their heads with her tender hands,

And sustained them with rods and osier bands;

If the flowers had been her own infants she

Could never have nursed them more tenderly.

And all killing insects and gnawing worms,

And things of obscene and unlovely forms,

She bore in a basket of Indian woof,
Into the rough woods far aloof,

In a basket, of grasses and wild-flowers full,

The freshest her gentle hands could pull For the poor banished insects, whose intent,

Although they did ill, was innocent.

But the bee and the beamlike ephemeris Whose path is the lightning's, and soft moths that kiss

The sweet lips of the flowers, and harm not, did she

Make her attendant angels be.

And many an antenatal tomb,
Where butterflies dream of the life to


She left clinging round the smooth and dark

Edge of the odorous cedar bark.

This fairest creature from earliest spring Thus moved through the garden ministering

All the sweet season of summer tide, And ere the first leaf looked brown-she died!


Three days the flowers of the garden fair, Like stars when the moon is awakened, were,

Or the waves of Baiæ, ere luminous
She floats up through the smoke of

And on the fourth, the Sensitive Plant Felt the sound of the funeral chant, And the steps of the bearers, heavy and slow,

And the sobs of the mourners deep and low;

The weary sound and the heavy breath, And the silent motions of passing death, And the smell, cold, oppressive, and dank,

Sent through the pores of the coffin plank;

The dark grass, and the flowers among the grass,

Were bright with tears as the crowd did pass;

From their sighs the wind caught a , mournful tone,

And sate in the pines, and gave groan for groan.

The garden once fair, became cold and foul,

Like the corpse of her who had been its soul,

Which at first was lovely as if in sleep, Then slowly changed, till it grew a heap To make men tremble who never weep.

Swift summer into the autumn flowed, And frost in the mist of the morning rode,

Though the noonday sun looked clear and bright,

Mocking the spoil of the secret night.

The rose leaves, like flakes of crimson snow,

Paved the turf and the moss below.
The lilies were drooping, and white, and


Like the head and the skin of a dying


And Indian plants, of scent and hue
The sweetest that ever were fed on dew,
Leaf by leaf, day after day,

Were massed into the common clay.

And the leaves, brown, yellow, and gray, and red,

And white with the whiteness of what is dead,

Like troops of ghosts on the dry wind past;

Their whistling noise made the birds aghast.

And the gusty winds waked the wingéd seeds,

Out of their birthplace of ugly weeds, Till they clung round many a sweet flower's stem,

Which rotted into the earth with them.

The water-blooms under the rivulet Fell from the stalks on which they were set;

And the eddies drove them here and there,

As the winds did those of the upper air.

Then the rain came down, and the broken stalks,

Were bent and tangled across the walks; And the leafless network of parasite

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His breath was a chain which without

a sound

The earth, and the air, and the water bound;

He came, fiercely driven, in his chariot


By the tenfold blasts of the arctic zone.

Then the weeds which were forms of

living death

Fled from the frost to the earth beneath. Their decay and sudden flight from frost Was but like the vanishing of a ghost!

And under the roots of the Sensitive Plant

The moles and the dormice died for want:

The birds dropped stiff from the frozen air

And were caught in the branches naked and bare.

First there came down a thawing rain And its dull drops froze on the boughs. again,

Then there steamed up a freezing dew Which to the drops of the thaw-rain grew;

And a northern whirlwind, wandering


Like a wolf that had smelt a dead child out,

Shook the boughs thus laden, and heavy and stiff,

And snapped them off with his rigid griff.

When winter had gone and spring came back

The Sensitive Plant was a leafless wreck; But the mandrakes, and toadstools, and

docks, and darnels,

Rose like the dead from their ruined charnels.


Whether the Sensitive Plant, or that Which within its boughs like a spirit sat

Ere its outward form had known decay,
Now felt this change, I cannot say.

Whether that lady's gentle mind,
No longer with the form combined
Which scattered love, as stars do light,
Found sadness, where it left delight,

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As she dances about the sun.

I wield the flail of the lashing hail,
And whiten the green plains under,
And then again I dissolve it in rain,

And laugh as I pass in thunder.

I sift the snow on the mountains below, And their great pines groan aghast; And all the night 'tis my pillow white, While I sleep in the arms of the blast.

Sublime on the towers of my skiey bowers,

Lightning my pilot sits,

In a cavern under is fettered the thunder,
It struggles and howls at fits;
Over earth and ocean, with gentle

This pilot is guiding me,

Lured by the love of the genii that move In the depths of the purple sea; Over the rills, and the crags, and the


Over the lakes and the plains, Wherever he dream, under mountain or stream,

The Spirit he loves remains; And I all the while bask in heaven's blue smile,

Whilst he is dissolving in rains.

The sanguine sunrise, with his meteor eyes,

And his burning plumes outspread, Leaps on the back of my sailing rack,

When the morning star shines dead, As on the jag of a mountain crag,

Which an earthquake rocks and swings,

An eagle alit one moment may sit

In the light of its golden wings. And when sunset may breathe, from the lit sea beneath,

Its ardors of rest and of love, And the crimson pall of eve may fall

From the depth of heaven above, With wings folded I rest, on mine airy nest,

As still as a brooding dove.

That orbed maiden with white fire laden, Whom mortals call the moon, Glides glimmering o'er my fleece-like floor,

By the midnight breezes strewn ; And wherever the beat of her unseen feet,

Which only the angels hear, May have broken the woof of my tent's thin roof,

The stars peep behind her and peer; And I laugh to see them whirl and flee, Like a swarm of golden bees, When I widen the rent in my wind-built tent,

Till the calm rivers, lakes, and seas, Like strips of the sky fallen through me on high,

Are each paved with the moon and these.

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The sphere-fire above its soft colors wove, While the moist earth was laughing below.

I am the daughter of earth and water, And the nursling of the sky;

I pass through the pores of the ocean and shores;

I change, but I cannot die.

For after the rain when with never a stain,

The pavilion of heaven is bare, And the winds and sunbeams with their convex gleams,

Build up the blue dome of air,

I silently laugh at my own cenotaph,
And out of the caverns of rain,
Like a child from the womb, like a
ghost from the tomb,

I arise and unbuild it again.

1820. 1820.


HAIL to thee, blithe spirit!
Bird thou never wert,

That from heaven, or near it,
Pourest thy full heart

In profuse strains of unpremeditated art.

Higher still and higher

From the earth thou springest
Like a cloud of fire;

The blue deep thou wingest, And singing still dost soar, and soaring ever singest.

In the golden lightning

Of the sunken sun,

O'er which clouds are brightning,
Thou dost float and run;

Like an unbodied joy whose race is just begun.

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