The Gossips

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by Ella Wheeler Wilcox

   A rose in my garden, the sweetest and fairest,
      Was hanging her head through the long golden hours;
   And early one morning I saw her tears falling,
      And heard a low gossiping talk in the bowers.

   The yellow Nasturtium, a spinster all faded,
      Was telling a Lily what ailed the poor Rose:
   ‘That wild, roving Bee, who was hanging about her
      Has jilted her squarely, as every one knows.

   ‘I knew when he came, with his singing and sighing,
      His airs and his speeches, so fine and so sweet,
   Just how it would end; but no one would believe me,
      For all were quite ready to fall at his feet.’

   ‘Indeed, you are wrong,’ said the Lilybelle proudly,
      ‘I cared nothing for him. He called on me once
   And would have come often, no doubt, if I’d asked him.
      But though he was handsome, I thought him a dunce.’

   ‘Now, now, that’s not true,’ cried the tall Oleander.
      ‘He has travelled and seen every flower that grows;
   And one who has supped in the garden of princes,
      We all might have known would not wed with the Rose.’

   ‘But wasn’t she proud when he showed her attention?
      And she let him caress her,’ said sly Mignonette.
   ‘And I used to see it and blush for her folly.
      The silly thing thinks he will come to her yet.’

   ‘I thought he was splendid,’ said pretty, pert Larkspur.
      ‘So dark and so grand, with that gay cloak of gold;
   But he tried once to kiss me, the impudent fellow,
      And I got offended; I thought him too bold.’

   ‘Oh, fie!’ laughed the Almond. ‘That does for a story.
      Though I hang down my head, yet I see all that goes;
   And I saw you reach out, trying hard to detain him,
      But he just tapped your cheek and flew by to the Rose.

   ‘He cared nothing for her, he only was flirting
      To while away time, as every one knew;
   So I turned a cold shoulder to all his advances,
      Because I was certain his heart was untrue.’

   ‘The Rose it served right for her folly in trusting
      An oily-tongued stranger,’ quoth proud Columbine.
   ‘I knew what he was, and thought once I would warn her.
      But, of course, the affair was no business of mine.’

   ‘Oh, well,’ cried the Peony, shrugging her shoulders,
      ‘I saw all along that the Bee was a flirt;
   But the Rose has been always so praised and so petted,
      I thought a good lesson would do her no hurt.’

   Just then came a sound of a love-song sung sweetly;
      I saw my proud Rose lifting up her bowed head;
   And the talk of the gossips was hushed in a moment,
      And the whole garden listened to hear what was said.

   And the dark, handsome Bee, with his cloak o’er his shoulder,
      Came swift through the sunlight and kissed the sad Rose,
   And whispered: ‘My darling, I’ve roved the world over,
      And you are the loveliest blossom that grows.’

from An Englishman and Other Poems by Ella Wheeler Wilcox (1912)

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