The Lily of the Valley

      Where the hare-bells are ringing
         Their peal of sunny flowers,
      And a bird of merry soul
         Sings away the birthday hours
         Of the valley-lily low,
         Opening, dewily and slow,
         Petals, dear to young and fair
         For the prophecy they bear
            Of the coming roses—
      The free bold bird of merry soul
      Amidst his leaves cannot control
         His triumphant love of spring.

      Thou bird of joyous soul,
      Why can’st thou not control
         Thy triumphant love of spring?
      I know that thou dost rally
         Thy spirit proud to sing,
      Because to-day is born
         The lily of the valley.
      Oh! rather should’st thou mourn;
         For that flower so meek and low,
            Born with its own death-bell,
            Only cometh to foretell
               Unpitying winter’s doom,
         Who in scorn doth lay it low
               In the tomb.

         Vain is all its prayer,
      It may flatter, as it will,
         The ungentle hours
         With its ring of toying flowers;
      Unrelenting they must kill
         With their scornful breath,
      For the very petals fair,
         Which the destined flower uncloses
            In its innocence,
            To plead for its defence,
      By the prophecy they bear
         Of the coming roses,
            Sign the warrant for its death.

[Kelsall, 1851]