Lines, On Seeing the Flower Called Honesty in a Lady’s Cap
When Jove sat his cloud-cover’d portal beneath,
To laugh, and to watch what mankind did,
He saw a new flower in his cup-bearer’s wreath,
And ask’d where he happen’d to find it.
The rosy boy bowing, and filling the bowl,
Thus answer’d the Thunderer’s query:
“It loves a cold climate not far from the pole,
But always, my lord, very near ye.
’Tis whiter than milk, ’tis as downy as silk,
Yet blooms on the heath and the mountain;
The mother of Love thought it fit for her glove,
And dipp’d it one day in her fountain.
They say from that hour it grew supple and weak,
Too poor for a page’s court-bonnet;
And who could the dry barren mountain-herb seek,
When Beauty trod laughing upon it.
They had it in France half a cent’ry ago,
In Scotland and Ireland they claim it—
It bears twenty names in all regions we know,
Englishmen Honesty name it.”
Jove laugh’d, and replied, “How you prattle, my page!
’Tis a plant of my own cultivation:
It blooms, like the aloe, scarce once in an age,
Tho’ the seeds are in every nation.
In England it grows rough and hardy at least,
In storms that might eagles or storks tire:
’Twill bear any blast from the South, West, or East,
If it lives in a borough in Yorkshire.
And now since my old attic fount is too dry,
The plant I delight in to nourish,
Some soil we must seek, and some climate supply
With means to make Honesty flourish.
But no—I remember;—the task I may spare,
It needs neither help nor compassion:
Of Honesty man would be proud to take care,
If woman would make it the fashion.