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Stedman and Hutchinson, comps. A Library of American Literature:
An Anthology in Eleven Volumes. 1891.
Vols. IX–XI: Literature of the Republic, Part IV., 1861–1889

To the Dandelion

By James Russell Lowell (1819–1891)

[From Poetical Works. Collective Edition. 1885.]

DEAR common flower, that grow’st beside the way,

Fringing the dusty road with harmless gold,

First pledge of blithesome May,

Which children pluck, and, full of pride, uphold,

High-hearted buccaneers, o’erjoyed that they

An Eldorado in the grass have found,

Which not the rich earth’s ample round

May match in wealth, thou art more dear to me

Than all the prouder summer-blooms may be.

Gold such as thine ne’er drew the Spanish prow

Through the primeval hush of Indian seas,

Nor wrinkled the lean brow

Of age, to rob the lover’s heart of ease;

’Tis the Spring’s largess, which she scatters now

To rich and poor alike, with lavish hand,

Though most hearts never understand

To take it at God’s value, but pass by

The offered wealth with unrewarded eye.

Thou art my tropics and mine Italy;

To look at thee unlocks a warmer clime;

The eyes thou givest me

Are in the heart, and heed not space or time:

Not in mid June the golden-cuirassed bee

Feels a more summer-like warm ravishment

In the white lily’s breezy tent,

His fragrant Sybaris, than I, when first

From the dark green thy yellow circles burst.

Then think I of deep shadows on the grass,

Of meadows where in sun the cattle graze,

Where, as the breezes pass,

The gleaming rushes lean a thousand ways,

Of leaves that slumber in a cloudy mass,

Or whiten in the wind, of waters blue

That from the distance sparkle through

Some woodland gap, and of a sky above,

Where one white cloud like a stray lamb doth move.

My childhood’s earliest thoughts are linked with thee;

The sight of thee calls back the robin’s song,

Who, from the dark old tree

Beside the door, sang clearly all day long,

And I, secure in childish piety,

Listened as if I heard an angel sing

With news from heaven, which he could bring

Fresh every day to my untainted ears

When birds and flowers and I were happy peers.

How like a prodigal doth nature seem,

When thou, for all thy gold, so common art!

Thou teachest me to deem

More sacredly of every human heart,

Since each reflects in joy its scanty gleam

Of heaven, and could some wondrous secret show,

Did we but pay the love we owe,

And with a child’s undoubting wisdom look

On all these living pages of God’s book.