On a bed of Guernsey lilies
Written in September, 1763, by the Christian visionary, Christopher Smart. The photograph of a Guernsey lily, which flowers in autumn, is from the Carel Toms collection.
Ye beauties! O how great the sum
Of sweetness that ye bring;
On what a charity ye come
To bless the latter spring! ...
How kind the visit that ye pay,
Like strangers on a rainy day,
When heartiness despaired of guests:
No neighbour’s praise your pride alarms,
No rival flower surveys your charms,
Or heightens, or contests!
Lo, through her works gay Nature grieves
How brief she is and frail,
As ever o’er the falling leaves
Autumnal winds prevail.
Yet still the philosophic mind
Consolatory food can find,
And hope her anchorage maintain:
We never are deserted quite;
‘Tis by succession of delight
That love supports his reign.
For more about the Guernsey lily, see Lilium sarniense, or a description of the Guernsey-Lilly, 1725.