Here’s the garden she walked across,
Arm in my arm, such a short while since;
Hark, now I push its wicket, the moss
Hinders the hinges and makes them wince!
She must have reached this shrub ere she turned,
As back with that murmur the wicket swung;
For she laid the poor snail, my chance foot spurned,
To feed and forget it the leaves among.
Down this side of the gravel-walk
She went while her robe’s edge brushed the box; [A]
And here she paused in her gracious talk
To point me a moth on the milk-white phlox.
Roses, ranged in valiant row,
I will never think that she passed you by!
She loves you, noble roses, I know;
But yonder, see, where the rock-plants lie!
This flower she stopped at, finger on lip,
Stooped over, in doubt, as settling its claim;
Till she gave me, with pride to make no slip,
Its soft meandering Spanish name.
What a name! Was it love or praise?
Speech half-asleep or song half-awake?
I must learn Spanish, one of these days,
Only for that slow sweet name’s sake.
Roses, if I live and do well,
I may bring her, one of these days,
To fix you fast with as fine a spell,
Fit you each with his Spanish phrase;
But do not detain me now; for she lingers
There, like sunshine over the ground,
And ever I see her soft white fingers
Searching after the bud she found.
Flower, you Spaniard, look that you grow not;
Stay as you are and be loved forever!
Bud, if I kiss you ’tis that you blow not;
Mind, the shut pink month opens never!
For while it pouts, her fingers wrestle,
Twinkling the audacious leaves between,
Till round they turn and down they nestle–
Is not the dear mark still to be seen?
Where I find her not, beauties vanish;
Whither I follow her, beauties flee;
Is there no method to tell her in Spanish
June’s twice June since she breathed it with me?
Come, bud, show me the least of her traces,
Treasure my lady’s lightest footfall!
–Ah, you may flout and turn up your faces–
Roses, you are not so fair after all!
This poem and “Sibrandus Schafnaburgensis,” a companion poem, appeared in Hood’s Magazine, July, 1844, under the title of “Garden Fancies.” “The Flower’s Name” is a description of a garden by a lover whose conception of its beauty is heightened and made vital by the memories it enshrines. Of this poem Miss Barrett wrote to Browning, “Then the ‘Garden Fancies’–some of the stanzas about the name of the flower, with such exquisite music in them, and grace of every kind–and with that beautiful and musical use of the word ‘meandering,’ which I never remember having seen used in relation to sound before. It does to mate with your ‘simmering quiet’ in Sordello, which brings the summer air into the room as sure as you read it.” (Letters of R. B. and E. B. B., I, 134.)
10. Box. An evergreen shrub, dwarf varieties of which are used for low hedges or the borders of flower-beds.