Came a bouquet from the city,
Fragrant, rich and debonair –
Sweet carnation and geraniium,
Heliotrope and roses rare.
Down beside the crystal river,
Where the moss-grown rocks are high,
And the ferns, from niche and crevice,
Stretch to greet the azure sky;
In the chaste October sunlight,
High above the path below,
Grew a tuft of lovely blue-bells,
Softly wind-swung to and fro.
Reached a dainty hand to grasp them,
Bore them home with loving care,
Tenderly and proudly placed them
‘Mid the flowers so sweet and fair.
But my timid little blue-bells,
Children of the leafy wild,
Dazzled by their city sisters,
Turned away and, tearful, smiled.
When alone, I bent to kiss them,
Pleadingly they sighed to me,
‘Take us, when we die, we pray thee,
Back beneath the dear old tree.’
‘We would sleep where first the sunshine
Kissed us in the dewy morn;
Where, while soft, warm zephyrs fanned us,
Leaf and bud and flower were born.’
So I bore them, when they faded,
Back to where love sighed for them;
Laid them near the ferns and mosses,
‘Neath the dear old parent stem; –
Deeply grieved that all things lovely
Must so soon forever die, –
That upon the gentle blue-bells
Winter’s cold, deep snow must lie.
And I half arraigned the goodness
That made Death king everywhere –
Stretching forth his cruel sceptre –
Lord of sea, and earth and air.
Summer came, and all the hillsides
Wore a shim’ring robe of green;
And with rifts of sky and cloudlet
Flashed the river’s golden sheen.
I was walking the old pathway,
When a tiny shout I hears;
Harken! was it elfin fairy,
Or some truant mocking bird?
No! a family of blue-bells
Waved their slender arms on high
Clapped their tiny arms in triumph,
Crying, ‘See! we did not die.’
‘Never more distrust the Master,
Love and Truth his ways attend
Death is but a darkened portal
Of a life that ne’er shall end
‘Loved ones, parted from in anguish,
Your glad eyes again shall see, –
Brighter than the hopes you cherished
Shall the glad fruition be.’
© Ella Wheeler Wilcox