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Golden Rod

( Originally Published 1916 )

IT has come, the army with golden plumes, and conquered the land.

Every wall is held, every highway is sentinelled. There are squadrons in the meadows and pickets in the woods.

So quietly the little soldiers came, myriads upon myriads of them, stealing northward by moon-light, spreading east and west guided by the winds and piped to by the birds in the hedgerows, so gently were we beleaguered, that until but a few days ago we knew it not, and then when we strolled far out one Sunday in the countryside we saw them, sheen of pure gold in the sun, nodding clusters of the most beautiful royal yellow in the world, happy groups laughing to us from the wayside, until we were all a tremble with the exquisiteness, the daintiness, the consummate wonder of it all, and "or ever I was aware my soul made me like the chariots of the Aminadab."

There are other flowers for other spirit moods, for other seasons. We must love the little crocus, first born of the sun and the woman-earth, as it thrusts its fragile beauty up through the snow upon the warm side of the house; and the violet, shy beneath its covering leaf, blue as a speck of sky fallen timid and chaste; and the brilliant dandelions, smearing the grass fields as with a brush dipped in the sun and the wild roses, like sweet thoughts of young girls gladdening the dusty road; and hollyhocks and marigold, pinks and forget-me-nots, roses and rue ; but what can compare with this gypsy flower of the open, this flower uncultured and unimprovable by man, the direct gift and most gracious handiwork of God, the Master Craftsman of beauty, who lends the earth, at the death of summer, this garment of cloth-of-gold as a splendid cerement !

Lovers love you, little Golden Rod. I saw them wandering in the woodland and along the lanes, gathering armfuls of your treasure.

Mothers love you and set you in their windows to catch the sun.

And I know a man (and how many are there, brothers of his spirit?) who goes out alone and looks at you these days, and finds your charm singing in his heart, a broken heart that seems to mend in your presence, for he thinks of her who last year walked beside him, as glorious in her eyes and smile as you are glorious, and who loved you so, and he takes the fullest and richest of your blooms, and lays them on the little mound where she sleeps forever.

You too must go, Golden Rod, as all beauty must go, for evanescence is writ on earthly joy. But would you might stay always with us,

Clothing the palpable and familiar
With golden exhalations of the dawn.

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