Pine, Rose and Fleur de Lis

by Susie Frances Harrison




O not to love the place where one was born,
Not even to care to see, it—not to love
All early moods and friends and forms and faces,
All childish things, all books, all plays, all places
That one has known in far sequestered years—


It is a bitter thing! I read to-night
For the first time, the hectic ecstacies
Of Gray, the latter David, the Scotch Chatterton.
The book was sent me—’tis not known—poor boy!
Poor boy—I wept, and still in weeping felt


I envied him, he loved his cottage so,
His natal valley, Luggie’s tawny banks,
He loved them so, I say, he loved them so.
There! I am mad to-night! Women like me,
Self-wrought, self-taught, fighting the world aside,

And oh! to women the wide world is wide,
Ambitious, scornful, filiae populi,
Rare daughters of the people, rare, why not?
I brought you Art, from where all Art was nought—
Women like me in whom the wine of life
Runs madly, dowered with red of blood and lip,
With Irish blue of eye and black of hair,
Talking of cottages—Ah! Justine, I’ll wear
The Felix dress to-night. Which one? The last.
That delicate dream of gray dissolved in green;
The gray alone would slay me, but the tint
Of olive in the green and then that knot
Of deep red roses—yes, ’tis well—and he,
He, Felix, is no fool. I was the first
To make him famous—mind, the night I played
My “Adrienne” first. ’Twas you? No, ’twas Annette.
And for a week I knew not what to wear,
And for a week I cared not if I wore
Nothing—till three days past I breathless sent
To Felix. “Madame will require at once—
A débutante—four dresses—Lecouvreur—
Original if possible—Drury Lane—
Complexion fair, hair dark, her own, in height
A little above the medium, eyes dark blue.”
A pretty telegram, they told Annette,
But she, a clever Frenchwoman, yes, far
Cleverer than you Justine just turned it off.
You’ve seen those dresses. One I still can wear,
The one en Pompadour, heart-shaped at waist,
An innocent pattern, rosebuds, wings, silk-laced,
I wore it yesterday, you know, to Kew.
The artists were in raptures at the hue,
Faint salmon-yellow, sprigged with rosy bloom,
And drenched, my child, with Lubin’s best perfume.
Did you not notice it? Scent to suit the sprigs;
A perfume for each dress, a bottle per robe;
It is—expensive but it pleases me,
Amuses me, and look! it will amuse
“Society” too, the paper and the thing.
Society’s a noun and singular,
So very singular, I find at times,
But as it likes me, I’ve no fault with it,
And you’re at liberty, Justine, to tell
The indolent reviewers, editors,
Reporters, critics, hangers-on the press
And loungers at stage doors, even “The Bat,”
About the perfume. Quite the newest thing.
Madame—c’est moi—has set in fairy freak
A fairy fashion in her own grand way.
So—you may tell them. Now, Justine, make haste.
I shall be late, child. Set those roses higher,
Nearer my shoulder—so. My skin will fire
Later, upon the stage, but now ’tis cold
And gray. Justine, I am not growing old!
’Tis but the worry and the hours you think?
It soon will pass, you’re sure? I trust so. Higher
Please set those roses. Here’s a branch of briar
Bound in with them! That makes me think, Justine,
How you’re the briar, I the grand red rose.
You the neat Breton maid not long from airs
Of rustic France, your cap, your gown, your shoes,
Your necklace and your braided plaits of brown,
Gaze with the young maid’s trick that looking down.
I—the forced product of a crowded town,
I—born with spangles in my eyes and clash
Of brass within my ears, I—grown to fame
And fortune most illimitable—yes,
I am the rose, the Jacqueminot, and you,
The wild sweet briar, sweetly bound to me
In this great London. Come, that pleases me,
A pretty parallel, so apposite.
I always had a literary turn,
And yet will write. my plays myself and for
Myself. O ego, ego, ego! Cease—
This wild inchoate talk! Justine, I go.
The rose has duties that the briar escapes;
Her velvet heart lies open, and its glow
Must help to warm the world, the world indoors
That has in truth but little taste for briars,
Accounting such but weeds. All briars but weeds?
You don’t know logic yet. Well, now I go.
Have coffee on the stroke of twelve—I’ll bring
A Cardinal, a Poet—perhaps a King
Home here to supper.



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