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Alfred H. Miles, ed. The Sacred Poets of the Nineteenth Century. 1907.

By Poems. V. The Birthday Crown

William Alexander (1824–1911)

IF aught of simple song have power to touch

Your silent being, O ye country flowers,

Twisted by tender hands

Into a royal brede,

O hawthorn, tear thou not the soft white brow

Of the small queen upon her rustic throne,

But breathe thy finest scent

Of almond round about.

And thou, laburnum, and what other hue

Tinct deeper gives variety of gold,

Inwoven lily, and vetch

Bedropp’d with summer’s blood,

I charge you wither not this long June day!

Oh, wither not until the sunset come,

Until the sunset’s shaft

Slope through the chestnut tree;

Until she sit, high-gloried round about

With the great light above her mimic court—

Her threads of sunny hair

Girt sunnily by you.

What other crown that queen may wear one day,

What drops may touch her forehead not of balm,

What thorns, what cruel thorns,

I will not guess to-day.

Only, before she is discrown’d of you,

Ye dying flowers, and thou, O dying light,

My prayer shall rise—“O Christ!

Give her the unfading crown.

“The crown of blossoms worn by happy bride,

The thorny crown o’er pale and dying lips,

I dare not choose for her—

Give her the unfading crown!”