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"Flowers" by James Russell Lowell

The following is the complete text of James Russell Lowell's "Flowers." The various books, short stories and poems we offer are presented free of charge with absolutely no advertising as a public service from Internet Accuracy Project.

Visit these other works by James Russell Lowell
"The Bobolink"
The Chief Mate
"The Courtin'"
"The Departed"
"A Dirge"
"A Glance Behind the Curtain"
"An Incident of the Fire at Hamburg"

"New Year's Eve, 1844"
"On the Death of a Friend's Child"
"The Pious Editor's Creed"
"The Present Crisis"
Lowell's Short Poems and Sonnets
"The Sirens"
"To The Future"

To see all available titles by other authors, drop by our index of free books alphabetized by author or arranged alphabetically by title.

Potential uses for the free books, stories and prose we offer
* Rediscovering an old favorite book, short story or poem.
* Bibliophiles expanding their collection of public domain ebooks at no cost.
* Teachers trying to locate a free online copy of a short story or poem for use in the classroom.

NOTE: We try to present these classic literary works as they originally appeared in print. As such, they sometimes contain adult themes, offensive language, typographical errors, and often utilize unconventional, older, obsolete or intentionally incorrect spelling and/or punctuation conventions.

"Flowers" by James Russell Lowell


by James Russell Lowell

"Hail be thou, holie hearbe,
Growing on the ground,
All in the mount Calvary
First wert thou found;
Thou art good for manie a sore,
Thou healest manie a wound,
In the name of sweete Jesus
I take thee from the ground."
--Ancient Charm-verse.


When, from a pleasant ramble, home
Fresh-stored with quiet thoughts, I come,
I pluck some wayside flower
And press it in the choicest nook
Of a much-loved and oft-read book;
And, when upon its leaves I look
In a less happy hour,
Dear memory bears me far away
Unto her fairy bower,
And on her breast my head I lay,
While, in a motherly, sweet strain,
She sings me gently back again
To by-gone feelings, until they
Seem children born of yesterday.


Yes, many a story of past hours
I read in these dear withered flowers,
And once again I seem to be
Lying beneath the old oak tree,
And looking up into the sky,
Through thick leaves rifted fitfully,
Lulled by the rustling of the vine,
Or the faint low of far-off kine;
And once again I seem
To watch the whirling bubbles flee,
Through shade and gleam alternately,
Down the vine-bowered stream;
Or 'neath the odorous linden trees,
When summer twilight lingers long,
To hear the flowing of the breeze
And unseen insects' slumberous song,
That mingle into one and seem
Like dim murmurs of a dream;
Fair faces, too, I seem to see,
Smiling from pleasant eyes at me,
And voices sweet I hear,
That, like remembered melody,
Flow through my spirit's ear.


A poem every flower is,
And every leaf a line,
And with delicious memories
They fill this heart of mine:
No living blossoms are so clear.
As these dead relics treasured here;
One tells of love, of friendship one,
Love's quiet after-sunset time,
When the all-dazzling light is gone,
And, with the soul's low vesper-chime,
O'er half its heaven doth out-flow
A holy calm and steady glow.
Some are gay feast-song, some are dirges,
In some a joy with sorrow merges;
One sings the shadowed woods, and one the roar
Of ocean's everlasting surges,
Tumbling upon the beach's hard-beat floor,
Or sliding backward from the shore
To meet the landward waves and slowly plunge once more.
O flowers of grace, I bless ye all
By the dear faces ye recall!


Upon the banks of Life's deep streams
Full many a flower groweth,
Which with a wondrous fragrance teems,
And in the silent water gleams,
And trembles as the water floweth,
Many a one the wave upteareth,
Washing ever the roots away,
And far upon its bosom beareth,
To bloom no more in Youth's glad May;
As farther on the river runs,
Flowing more deep and strong,
Only a few pale, scattered ones
Are seen the dreary banks along;
And where those flowers do not grow,
The river floweth dark and chill,
Its voice is sad, and with its flow
Mingles ever a sense of ill;
Then, Poet, thou who gather dost
Of Life's best flowers the brightest,
O, take good heed they be not lost
While with the angry flood thou fightest!


In the cool grottoes of the soul,
Whence flows thought's crystal river,
Whence songs of joy forever roll
To Him who is the Giver--
There store thou them, where fresh and green
Their leaves and blossoms may be seen,
A spring of joy that faileth never;
There store thou them, and they shall be
A blessing and a peace to thee,
And in their youth and purity
Thou shalt be young forever!
Then, with their fragrance rich and rare,
Thy living shall be rife,
Strength shall be thine thy cross to bear,
And they shall be a chaplet fair,
Breathing a pure and holy air,
To crown thy holy life.


O Poet! above all men blest,
Take heed that thus thou store them;
Love, Hope, and Faith shall ever rest,
Sweet birds (upon how sweet a nest!)
Watchfully brooding o'er them.
And from those flowers of Paradise
Scatter thou many a blessed seed,
Wherefrom an offspring may arise
To cheer the hearts and light the eyes
Of after-voyagers in their need.
They shall not fall on stony ground,
But, yielding all their hundred-fold,
Shall shed a peacefulness around,
Whose strengthening joy may not be told,
So shall thy name be blest of all,
And thy remembrance never die;
For of that seed shall surely fall
In the fair garden of Eternity.
Exult then in the nobleness
Of this thy work so holy,
Yet be not thou one jot the less
Humble and meek and lowly,
But let thine exultation be
The reverence of a bended knee;
And by thy life a poem write,
Built strongly day by day--
And on the rock of Truth and Right
Its deep foundations lay.


It is thy DUTY! Guard it well!
For unto thee hath much been given,
And thou canst make this life a Hell,
Or Jacob's-ladder up to Heaven.
Let not thy baptism in Life's wave
Make thee like him whom Homer sings--
A sleeper in a living grave,
Callous and hard to outward things;
But open all thy soul and sense
To every blessed influence
That from the heart of Nature springs
Then shall thy Life-flowers be to thee,
When thy best years are told,
As much as these have been to me--
Yea, more, a thousand-fold!

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