278. A Contemplation upon Flowers

Henry King, Bishop of Chichester. 1592-1669

BRAVE flowers--that I could gallant it like you,
      And be as little vain!
You come abroad, and make a harmless show,
      And to your beds of earth again.
You are not proud: you know your birth:
For your embroider'd garments are from earth.

You do obey your months and times, but I
      Would have it ever Spring:
My fate would know no Winter, never die,
      Nor think of such a thing.
O that I could my bed of earth but view
And smile, and look as cheerfully as you!

O teach me to see Death and not to fear,
      But rather to take truce!
How often have I seen you at a bier,
      And there look fresh and spruce!
You fragrant flowers! then teach me, that my breath
Like yours may sweeten and perfume my death.

The Oxford Book of English Verse, HTML edition