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A Victorian Scrapbook

A Scrapbook of Newspaper Articles Compiled by George Burgess (1829-1905)

Victorian Poetry

Hymn to the flowers

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Transcript from original newspaper article: -

“It is,” says Dr. Chalmers, “a most Christian exercise to extract a sentiment of piety from the works and appearances of nature. Our Saviour expatiates on a flower, and draws from it the delightful argument of confidence in God.” The annexed poem, by Horace Smith, has not a rival in the language.

Hymn to the flowers


"Day stars! That ope your eyes with morn, to twinkle
From rainbow galaxies of earth’s creation,
And dew-drops on her lonely alter sprinkle
As a libation.

Ye matin worshippers! Who, bending lowly
Before the uprisen sun – God’s lidless eye –
Throw from your chalices so sweet and holy
Incense on high.

Ye bright mosaics! That, with storied beauty
The floor of Nature’s temple tesselate,
What numerous emblems of instructive duty
Your forms create.

‘Neath cloistered boughs each floral bell that swingeth,
And toils its perfume on the passing air,
Makes Sabbath in the fields, and ever ringeth
A call to prayer;

Not to the domes where crumbling arch and column
Attest the feebleness of mortal hand,
But to that fane, most catholic and solemn,
Which Goth hath planned;

To that eathedral, boundless as our wonder,
Whose quenchless lamps the sun and moon supply;
Its choir, the winds and waves – its organ, thunder –
Its dome, the sky!

There as in solitude and shade I wander
Through the lone aisle, or stretched upon the sod,
Awed by the silence, reverently I ponder
The ways of God.

Your voiceless lips, oh! flowers are living preachers –
Each cup a pulpit – each leaf a book,
Supplying to my fancy numerous teachers
From loneliest nook.

Floral spostles! that, in dewy splendor,
Weep without woe, and blush without a crime,
O! may I deeply learn and ne’er surrender
Your love sublime.

‘Thou wert not, Solomon, in all thy glory,
Arrayed,’ the lilies cry, ‘in robes like ours;
How vain your grandeur!’ ah, how transitory
Are human flowers.

In sweet-scented pictures, heavenly artist,
With which thou paintest Nature’s wide-spread hall,
What a delightful lesson thou impartest
Of love to all.

Not useless are ye, flowers! though made for pleasure,
Blooming o’er field and hill, by day and night,
From every source your sanctions bids me treasure
Harmless delight.

Ephemeral sages! what instructors hoary
For such a world of thought could furnish scope
Each fading calyx a ‘memento mori,’
Yet fount of hope!

Posthumous glories! angel-like collection!
Upraised from seed or bulb interred in earth,
Ye are to me a type of resurrection
And second birth!

Were I, O God! in churchless lands remaining,
Far from all voice of teachers and divines,
My soul would find, in flowers of Thy ordaining,
Priests, sermons, shrines!"


Calyx = The sepals of a flower considered as a group
Ephemeral = Living or lasting only for a day, as certain plants or insects do
Llibation = A ritual pouring of a drink as an offering to a god
Matin = The early part of the day
Memento mori = A reminder of death or mortality
Ope = Open
Tesselate = Fit together exactly, of identical shapes
Uprisen = Uprise
Wert = Past tense of be