The Wild Honey Suckle
By Philip Freneau
Fair flower, that dost so comely grow,
Hid in this silent, dull retreat, [FN1]
Untouched thy honied blossoms blow,
Unseen thy little branches greet:
No roving foot shall crush thee here,
No busy hand provoke a tear.
By Nature’s self in white arrayed,
She bade thee shun the vulgar eye,
And planted here the guardian shade,
And sent soft waters murmuring by;
Thus quietly thy summer goes,
Thy days declining to repose.[FN2]
Smit with those charms, that must decay,
I grieve to see your future doom;
They died—nor were those flowers more gay,
The flowers that did in Eden bloom;
Unpitying frosts, and Autumn’s power
Shall leave no vestige of this flower.
From morning suns and evening dews
At first thy little being came:
If nothing once, you nothing lose,
For when you die you are the same;
The space between, is but an hour,
The frail duration of a flower. [FN 3]
According to Robert Arner, Freneau made several noteworthy changes in early versions of this poem.
FN 1– 1788 Hid in this dreary dark retreat,
FN 2–1786 “Thy life reclining to repose” to present in 1788
FN 3–1786 “The empty image of a flower.” 1788 “The mere idea of a flower.” 1795 — present reading.
Text from Poems Written and Published during the American Revolutionary War, and Now Republished from the Original Manuscripts: Interspersed with Translations from the Ancients, and Other Pieces Not Heretofore in Print, Volume 1″ 1809.
Layout note–indent two last lines of each stanza 2 spcs–see below: