Sara Teasdale, comp. (1884–1933).
The Answering Voice: One Hundred Love Lyrics by Women. 1917.


Margaret Widdemer

Carnations and my first love! And he was seventeen,

And I was only twelve years—a stately gulf between!

I broke them on the morning the school-dance was to be,

To pin among my ribbons in hopes that he might see….

And all the girls stood breathless to watch as he came through

With curly crest and grand air that swept the heart from you!

And why he paused at my side is more than I can know—

Shyest of the small girls who all adored him so—

I said it with my prayer-times: I walked with head held high:

“Carnations are your flower!” he said as he strode by.

Carnations and my first love! The years are passed a score,

And I recall his first name, and scarce an eyelash more….

And those were all the love-words that either of us said—

Perhaps he may be married—perhaps he may be dead.

And yet,… to smell carnations, their spicy, heavy sweet,

Perfuming all some sick-room, or passing on the street,

Then … still the school-lamps flicker, and still the Lancers play,

And still the girls hold breathless to watch him go his way,

And still my child-heart quivers with that first ecstasy—

“Carnations are your flower!” my first love says to me!