The Birthday Wreath by John Greenleaf Whittier
December 17, 1891.
Blossom and greenness, making all
The winter birthday tropical,
And the plain Quaker parlors gay,
Have gone from bracket, stand, and wall;
We saw them fade, and droop, and fall,
And laid them tenderly away.
White virgin lilies, mignonette,
Blown rose, and pink, and violet,
A breath of fragrance passing by;
Visions of beauty and decay,
Colors and shapes that could not stay,
The fairest, sweetest, first to die.
But still this rustic wreath of mine,
Of acorned oak and needled pine,
And lighter growths of forest lands,
Woven and wound with careful pains,
And tender thoughts, and prayers, remains,
As when it dropped from love’s dear hands.
And not unfitly garlanded,
Is he, who, country-born and bred,
Welcomes the sylvan ring which gives
A feeling of old summer days,
The wild delight of woodland ways,
The glory of the autumn leaves.
And, if the flowery meed of song
To other bards may well belong,
Be his, who from the farm-field spoke
A word for Freedom when her need
Was not of dulcimer and reed.
This Isthmian wreath of pine and oak.