THE REBEL’S FLOWER
Stately they stepped through the garden closes,
Walking coldly a pace apart;
To them nodded the dewy roses
Red as the wrath that glowed in her heart.
Gown of damask and coat of scarlet –
Oh but they clothed a handsome pair!
Under her breath she fumed: “Saucy varlet,
Fain I’d affront him did I dare.”
Hot was her heart with hate of the British.
He to himself sighed walking there:
“My lady’s temper is somewhat skittish;
Pity a rebel should be so fair!”
Gaily he talked of the flowers and the weather
With courtly grace he had caught at St. James;
“This you call ‘lad’s love.’ this ‘Prince’s feather?'”
Laughingly conning the old-time names.
“And this blue flower?” he queried, bending
Over the scented violet’s bed;
Mirth and ire in her swift glance blending:
“That is the Rebel’s Flower,” she said.
“See, it needs only its life to nourish
Scanty share of soil and of sun.
Why the name? Because it will flourish
The more it is crushed and trampled on.”
The fragrant blooms in a posy tying
She placed a knot in her breast and hair.
“Blue as her eyes,” he thought, half sighing,
“Pity a rebel should be so fair!”
Poem / Alice Williams was born in 1848 in Cambridge City, Indiana. Her family moved to Cincinnati, 60 miles south on the Whitewater and Erie canals, circa 1851, where she attended Woodward High School in Over-the-Rhine. She married William Ernest Brotherton in 1876 and raised three children while devoting her spare time to poetry. She published two collections – “Beyond the Veil” in 1886, and “Sailing of King Olaf” in 1887 (Charles H. Kerr & Co., Chicago) – and numerous poems in magazines, journals and anthologies. She also wrote a number of hymns for the Unitarian Church. This clever personal poem with a feisty independent voice appeared in an anthology of work from members of the Ohio Valley Poetry Society, Ohio Valley Verse Vol. III, published in 1929, the year before she died.
Picture / Sara Caswell-Pearce, “Don’t tread on me.” Mixed-media collage made with antique chromolithographs and engravings, recycled paper with leaf inclusions; acrylic, watercolor, ink and pigment powder.