That was a fair one which a Queen
Pulled the great pearl from, in her spleen,
And drank its rich corroded sheen;
And dazzling bright was that which met,
And clasped its fatal diamond net
About Maria Antoinette;
And cool and fresh the dripping band
Which poor Undine, with trembling hand,
Snatched from the wave for Hildebrand;
But better mine, a little thread
Of jasmine blossoms, tipped with red,
As if in breaking they had bled.
It was all sweetness, and to one
Whose life on shore had just begun,
The very best beneath the sun!
Malta, August 23, 1851.
[Note. The boys in the streets of Malta string the jasmine blossoms and give or sell them to the passers-by.]