Ina Coolbrith

1841 – 1928 / Nauvoo, Illinois

An Emblem

I WAITED for a single flower to blow,
While all about me flowers were running wild:
Gold-hearted kingcups, sunnily that smiled,
And daisies like fresh-fallen flakes of snow,
And rarest violets, sweet whole colonies
Nestled in shady grasses by the brooks,
That sang, for love of them and their sweet looks,
Delicious melodies.

Now they are perished, all the fragile throng,
That held their sweetness up to me in vain.
Only this single blossom doth remain,
For whose Unfolding I have waited long,
Thinking, 'How rare a bloom these petals clasp!'
And lo! a sickly, dwarfed, and scentless thing,
Mocking my love and its close nourishing,
And withering in my grasp.

O dream! O hope! O promise of long years:
Art thou a flower that I have nurtured so,
Missing the every-day sweet joys that grow
By common pathways; moistened with my tears,
Watched through the dreary day and sleepless night,
And all about thy slender rootlets cast
My life like water, but to find at last
A bitterness and blight?
479 Total read