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The Story of a Scarlet Flower

Louisa Sarah Guggenberger Bevington

A white flower blew on a summer day,
A rude hand plucked it to cast away,
And it sprang up, a weed, on the king's highway.

So, deeply wounded, and yet not slain,
There came on its petals a scarlet stain,
(Will it ever, oh! ever, be white again?)

For the soul of the flower was perishing,
And the form of the flower did boldly spring
A noisome, a winsome wayside thing.

Some trampled it down in the race for wealth,
Poor dusty weed! and returned by stealth
To breathe the breath of its poisoned health.

Some, mocking, praised its flaming red,
And some went by with offended head,
And still the flower-soul bled, and bled.

All day it said to the careless eye,
"Praise me, or mock me, for what care I?
Let me eat and drink, for to-morrow I die!"

"All day it so mutely, mutely pled
The white soul prisoned beneath the red
Help me! I'm weary, and nearly dead."

And many gave ear to the scarlet lie;
Yet to that dumb prayer beneath the sky,
Not one! not one of the passers-by!

Till there came a man in a heaven-sent hour
Who stayed to gaze on the scarlet flower,
And there fell some drops of a morning shower.

"I will save thee, Flower, from a dusty end,
I will ask the heavens kind dews to send,
I will bear thee home for my lady to tend."

"I will give thee tenderest, sternest care,
I will give thee the purest of garden air,
Till thy petals grow white and exceedingly fair."

"Meet for the children at Whitsuntide,
Or to wreathe the brow of a virgin bride,
Or to lay on the pillow where baby died."

So instead of the dust it breathed the dew,
And the scarlet cooled to a purer hue;
Till the white flower soul looked sweetly through,

And the children loved it, as children do.

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