Monday, 6 May 2019

Poetry Revisited: The Hot-House Rose by Charlotte Turner Smith

The Hot-House Rose

(from Conversations Introducing Poetry: 1804)

An early rose borne from her genial bower,
Met the fond homage of admiring eyes,
And while young Zephyr fanned the lovely flower,
Nature and Art contended for the prize.

Exulting Nature cried, “I made thee fair,
‘T was I that nursed thy tender buds in dew;
I gave thee fragrance to perfume the air,
And stole from beauty’s cheek her blushing hue.”

“Cease, goddess, cease,“ indignant Art replied,
“And ere you triumph, know that, but for me,
This beauteous object of our mutual pride
Had been no other than a vulgar tree.

“I snatched her from her tardy mother’s arms,
Where sun-beams scorch and piercing tempests blow;
On my warm bosom nursed her infant charms,
Pruned the wild shoot, and trained the straggling bough.

“I watched her tender buds, and from her shade
Drew each intruding weed with anxious care,
Nor let the curling blight her leaves invade,
Nor worm nor noxious insect harbour there.

“At length the beauty’s loveliest bloom appears,
And Art from Fame shall win the promis’d boon,
While wayward April, smiling through her tears,
Decks her fair tresses with the wreaths of June.

“Then, jealous Nature, yield the palm to me,
To me thy pride its early triumph owes;
Though thy rude workmanship produced the tree,
‘Twas Education formed the perfect Rose.”

Charlotte Turner Smith (1749-1806)
English Romantic poet and novelist

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