African American Poetry (1870-1928): A Digital Anthology

Anne Spencer, "Lines to a Nasturtium" (1927)

LINES TO A NASTURTIUM
(A lover muses)

FLAME-FLOWER, Day-torch, Mauna Loa,
I saw a daring bee, today, pause, and soar,
   Into your flaming heart;
Then did I hear crisp, crinkled laughter
As the furies after tore him apart?
   A bird, next, small and humming,
Looked into your startled depths and fled. ....
Surely, some dread sight, and dafter
   Than human eyes as mine can see,
Set the stricken air waves drumming
   In his flight.

Day-torch, Flame-flower, cool-hot Beauty,
I cannot see, I cannot hear your flutey
Voice lure your loving swain,
But I know one other to whom you are in beauty
Born in vain:
Hair like the setting sun,
Her eyes a rising star,
Motions gracious as reeds by Babylon, bar
All your competing;
Hands like, how like, brown lilies sweet,
Cloth of gold were fair enough to touch her feet ...

Ah, how the sense floods at my repeating,
As once in her fire-lit heart I felt the furies
Beating, beating.


Published in Caroling Dusk1927

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