To My Book

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To My Book
by Frances Sargent Osgood
Used as a preface to Osgood's collection A Wreath of Flowers from New England.

Farewell! my fragile, flower-filled book!
   I fling thee on the stream of Time,
With faltering hand and fearful soul,--
   As in the Orient's sunny clime,
The maiden trims her fragrant lamp,
   A tiny, faint, but Love-fed spark,
And trembling gives to doubtful waves,
   Illumed and wreathed, her fairy bark.

My simple flowers! a heaven of Love
   Was o'er ye when ye budded first,
And Love pronounced the blossoms fair,
   His own fond smiles and tears had nursed.

Alas! the garland's light will die
Beneath a colder critic's eye!
His soft wings fanned ye into bloom;
   How will ye bear a ruder breath?
Ah! wintry-wind and tempest-gloom
   Will chill your light leaves unto death!

Farwell, my bark! yet once again,
   I would my wish might guide thee still,
To clear the pirate-critic's den,
   Who'd blight thy tender freight at will.
The syren, Fame, in vain should sing,
   Thou'dst shun Distinction's lofty sea,
And only pause at friendly ports,
   Where partial eyes will look for thee.
There Love, turned pilot for they sake,
Thy humble helm would proudly take;
And anchor thee secure from storm,
In some true heart, with welcome, warm.

Yet vain the hope--the fear--perchance;
   For many a vessel bold and brave,
With richer freight and fairer sail,
   And prow that proudlier cuts the wave,
Is on the stream; and 'mid them all,--
   The strong, the lofty, swift and free,
With current coin for merchandize,--
   Who Love's light gondola will see?
Or, if beheld,--the critic stern
   May scorn, for prize of richer cost,
The smaller craft;--how soon wilt thou
   In cold oblivion's wave be lost!

Yet fare thee well!--It was not Pride,
   That sheeted home thy fluttering sails,
That launched thee on th' o'erburdened tide,
   And gave thy prow to wayward gales:
A wreath of wild flowers all thy freight!--
   The tide at ebb!--a scanty crew!--
The wind against thee!--ah! too late,
   This daring venture I may rue!
It was not Pride,--but what it was,
   That Pride itself forbids I tell;
Fate! with the plaything work thy will,
   'Tis thine!--my simple book, farewell!